The Jørgensen sampling – a test report
By Per Klepaker, former Cantor and Organist of Larvik Church, Norway
I have been one of Magne Nilsen’s beta testers. I have extensive and thorough experience of several decades of Jørgensen organs, both as a practicing cantor, but also while travelling around Norway, where Jørgensen organs have been a prominent part of so many churches all around the country for the last 50 years. I have played a lot of different material to suit the instrument, and here is my initial report.
The installation went smoothly and perfectly by the book. I had to configure the manuals + pedal manually. After I installed HW4 I have not installed new sample sets, I am for my part not totally up to date on the new system to find the manuals automatically. However I did not do the ”reset” of the midi settings, and it played straight away.
The first thing you meet – the general impression – is the graphic design which I found to be fully functional and had a familiar “Jørgensen-style” to it. If you had to poke a bit of authenticity, one can argue that Jørgensen as far as I have seen – did not really use round Stop buttons, but rather square rocker tabs. Designing such tabs with legible text can be a challenge, so this aspect may well be sacrificed in favor of a more easily read round Stop button. At the same time the couplers handle this in an exemplary manner.
Already from the first note the typical “Jørgensen-sound” is easily identifiable. I play with a 3 manual Laukhoff obtained from just a discarded Jørgensen organ from Tjølling Kirke – the very same organ I learned to play on as a little boy. The overall soundscape was one of immediate and remarkable recognition.
There are clearly defined objectives behind this sample set, which is laudable and also important for its understanding. I’m pretty sure the author knows most aspects of Jørgensen, and therefore also recognize the company name as “Jørgensen organ factory”, and NOT as Jørgensen organ builders. This was exploited by Jørgensens critics for all it was worth in the 60’ and 70’s. Furthermore, it is said, that an offer from Jørgensen was also specified for intonation to the church. For financial reasons the builder could deselect that option. Whether it is right I do not know, but the term “factory organs” may have something of its origin right there locally. Jørgensen made in his time so many organs for Norwegian churches that the term “Jørgensen Sound” was a regular expression in various reviews over the years.
I think the sample set producer has succeeded very well to reproduce this Jørgensen organ sound, and also in a nice way, given the character of the sometimes quirky and rather dry wooden acoustics typical in most Norwegian churches.
When the 2’ stops and the Mixtures are perceived as quite dominant and sharp in today’s ears, this is an important part of what the Jørgensen sound was. The same applies to Rohr voices, which could often feel a bit “thin”, and for some even perhaps a bit “raw”. All in all, the sampling, in my opinion gives an authentic picture of the Jørgensen sound.
Much of the background for Hauptwerk/Crumhorn Labs was to be able to play in real-time samples recorded on an idealistic background, of rare and historical organs and organs that were restored to be documented for posterity. Prof. Helmut Maier was a pioneer when it comes to the idea behind such documents. It is therefore in line with the original idea when the Jørgensen organ is documented like it typically on average was. Eventually there will be fewer and fewer left of them – and in all honesty time has been running out for the Jørgensen habitus, so a historical documentation like this sample set was now important, proper and wise.
In my opinion – and maybe even the most exciting part of this project – shows that there are someone also in Norway willing and able to perform a high quality organ sampling. Norway also has many organs that deserve such a sampling. In view of the extensive work a sample project is in practice, it is easy to understand that such projects can hardly be based on “one-man work” in the future. Combined with the development of rational software, it should have been established resources in order to sample the other important organs in Norway for the future.
I think the sample set is very precise in terms of intonation. If the user needs to do adjustments based on local conditions, this can easily be done in Hauptwerk, but one should be careful not to disturb the rather authentic defaults too much.
As a true Hauptwerk user you should have the ability to maintain two thoughts simultaneously: You should be able to listen, but also at the same time be able to connect this to the experience you have gained about how it sounds in reality. A true Hauptwerk user has the ability to understand the difference between a virtual reality organ and its limitations, and at the same time have no conflicts relative to the true organs and organ building. Not all has this capability.
My experience is that this Jørgensen sampling is credibly connected to the real world as it was / and in some cases still is, the way I perceive this. I do not see any conflicts between the current organ builder philosophy and this Jørgensen sampling.
- I have not noticed any implementation technical defects so far.
- I am a little puzzled over the specification with two Rørfløyte in the same work (4 and 7)
- I think that the 6.5 cents deviation in the Celeste (23) is perhaps a little too much?
- Fagott 16 of the pedal is just so out of tune at C – and three-four notes up, as it often was in the originals.
- C1 sounds a little off when it comes to Erzhaler (22) (and it’s derivative 23) but not unacceptable.
- C/C# panorama functions as intended.
- Pedal Quintadena 4’ could have been a little stronger (although users can adjust in Hauptwerk) – for solo voices it is slightly weak.
- I kind of miss a 24-bit version
- A plus for being quite compact (which with 24 bit would be a different matter again)
- I have not figured out the number of releases: it seems that there is only one. And with 1.4 sec reverberation that is probably okay.
My conclusion must be that I think a very important job has been performed, the defined goals have been reached, and a copy of an at times somewhat controversial organ type has been secured for the future in a very credible way.
EDIT: Dec 19th, 2011 – upon release of version 1.0 it turns out that the Pedal Fagott 16′ lowest octave C and C# has been retuned. They still represent the “Jørgensen sound”, but now they are entirely playable.