Back to recommendations for John Schroth, I remember hearing some of these original LPs and liking
I think Richter played organs smaller and older than some of the "MONSTER PIPES" show-off recordings
that have been popular over the years. He played in a style that he said was more authentic to the
period of Bach than other interpreters of his time. The main thing I liked was that the organs were
in small enough buildings that you could hear each note sound and understand its place in the piece
without it being vacuumed into a mosh pit of reverberation.
Interestingly, I like Richter's version of Bach as much as I like Virgil Fox's version of Bach, and
I think the men had very different ideas.
Speaking of Fox, if you want something totally different, find used copies of the old MCA Classics
reissues of the two Heavy Organ albums. In the early 70s, Fox got behind the keyboard of a Rodgers
Touring Organ, an electronic monster with more than 100 amplified speakers. The concerts included a
psychodellic light show. Decca Records USA recorded performances at the Fillmore East and the
Wintergarden Theater. The recordings include Fox's ruminations on Bach and Bach's music's place in
the youth culture of that time.
Another something different is the new generation of digital organs:
this company made the new organs in the Trinity Wall Street Church (its Aeolian Skinner organ was
destroyed on 9/11 because the blower was left on when the church was evacuated and the debris cloud
from the building callapse was sucked into the organ) and in Montclair NJ. The videos from Montclair
have the best audio. I'm interested in what organ-music afficianatos think of the sound of these
As for theater organs, that seems to be a music genre that was of great interest to a mostly male
niche audience of a certain age, and most of them appear to have passed on. There was a spate of
those records put out in the mid 50's and then again in the early stereo LP era. Only a few of the
theater organs exist anymore, and I haven't heard of any high-profile recordings for decades. I have
a circa 1956 2-track tape of George Wright and find the playing interesting but the musical
selections mostly antiquated and uninteresting.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Fox" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2015 6:22 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Quality pipe organ recordings
> Going even farther into the organ weeds: the original St. Thomas organ (E.
> M. Skinner, 1913) was 77 ranks; the 1956 Aeolian-Skinner "rebuild" was 160
> ranks, and basically only the pipefront, the console shell, and some
> windchests were retained -- much to the chagrin and fury of E. M. Skinner,
> who was still alive and active then. It really was a new organ. It acquired
> its almost mythic status because it was the last organ built by G. Donald
> Harrison, the Englishman hired by Skinner in 1928 as his putative
> successor. Harrison died on a hot summer night in June 1956 after spending
> the day at the church working with the tonal finishers; there was a transit
> strike, so he walked twenty or thirty blocks uptown, and died watching
> television. The changes that were made to the organ not long after his
> death, and again and again through the next forty years, were very
> significant, to the point that today's failing organ is no longer
> considered to be an Aeolian-Skinner. One welcome change has been to the
> building rather than the organ: St. Thomas used to be covered with those
> Guastavino tiles that look like stone and succeed in suppressing live sound
> to a remarkable degree, and St. Thomas used to look much better than it
> sounded. With the removal of those tiles -- the same thing happened to
> Riverside Church -- the room has become much friendlier to organ and choral
> music.Had this been done fifty years earlier, the Dupré recording would
> have been even more memorable.
> Michael Fox
> On Sun, Apr 19, 2015 at 1:45 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>> Getting a bit into the organ weeds here ...
>> The St. Thomas Church organ that Richard recorded was somewhat modified
>> from what Mercury recorded in 1957 (and, in fact, in 1956, the organ had
>> been extensively modified from its original construction). There was a roof
>> leak in 1966 that damaged the organ, requiring repairs. And then there was
>> a renovation that somewhat changed the sound. Richard's recording of Ms.
>> Hancock is very detailed, some of the best hearing of what that organ's
>> higher-pitched pipes sound like. It also fits very nicely with the Dupre
>> pieces, because they are thickly arranged (ie many notes sounding in quick
>> succession), and a closer-in perspective prevents the notes from being
>> buried in a muddy echo haze.
>> The St. Thomas organ is being replaced. In fact, in this video the church
>> produced featuring former Newsweek editor Jon Meecham:
>> a dismissive tone is taken toward those who loved the old organ. Note that
>> when Meecham gets talking about the organ, the Mercury Widor recording by
>> Dupre is in the background.
>> I was just in the church on Friday. There is construction going on all
>> over the place. Despite the hustle and bustle on 5th Ave, and the
>> construction, it was surprisingly quiet and peaceful in the chapel. I was
>> happy to see the old organ before it gets ripped out.
>> -- Tom Fine
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard L. Hess" <
>> [log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2015 4:09 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Quality pipe organ recordings
>> I can recommend "Organs of New York, Vol I" Judith Hancock at St. Thomas
>>> Church on the HESSOUND label.
>>> Actually, the two Dupré pieces on it were re-released on the Priory Label
>>> out of the UK, but it appears to have gone out of print.
>>> I have not heard this one:
>>> While this is a Christmas album, recorded by moi at St. Thomas in 1982
>>> --the hiss is organ windchest noise, not tape hiss--the mastering engineer
>>> still tried to remove a bit of it.
>>> It has some nice snapshots of the organ and the noted choir is in good
>>> Both the ProOrgano and the JAV recordings I've heard were good. I don't
>>> know if ProOrgano is still carrying the Dorothy Papadokos recordings at The
>>> Cathedral of St. John the Divine, but she did a great job in that wonderful
>>> space. She left since there was no organ to play after the fire maybe
>>> fifteen years ago.
>>> For Theatre organs, the late Tom Hazleton Pipes of the Mighty Wurlitzer
>>> at the San Sylmar organ in California.
>>> On 2015-04-19 1:21 PM, John Schroth wrote:
>>>> Good question - I should have been more specific. Classical mostly
>>>> although I might have an interest in picking up some theatre as well.
>>>> Kind Regards,
>>>> John Schroth
>>> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
>>> Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
>>> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.