Monday, March 31, 2008

Widor Early Symphonies

Charles-Marie Widor, Symphonies No. 3 and 4
Charles Krigbaum at the Newberry Memorial Organ, Woolsey Hall, Yale University
AKFA Records, SK-522, 1992

This is another issue in this series. I've little to add to my observations about the previous releases here except to confirm my previous impressions. This organ makes such convincing sounds that whatever it lacks in authenticity for this music it more than makes up for with its own very compelling voice. Overall, this instrument is much less reedy than the big Cavaillé-Colls--Aeolian Skinners in general, I think--though not less powerful. Rather, the power is made a different way, seemingly from just moving a whole lot of air through very large scale fluework rather than from a resort to brash reeds. That makes for a different effect, though I dare say it's no less effective.

This is always my impression of the more successful Skinners, that they exhibit a power and intensity all their own, some X-factor which newer "American Classic"-style concert organs (like the Dobson in Kimmel Center or the Meyerson Fisk) don't quite capture. I wonder what the comparative sound pressure levels between the instruments would be. It could be that I've got my teeth into a little subtlety that doesn't quite hold up to thorough rinsing, but every time I listen to this Woolsey Skinner I think "My god what a huge, huge sound."

The playing is excellent, as is the recording.


Joseph Dzeda said...

Dear Bigot,
As one of the curators of the great Skinner organ in Yale's Woolsey Hall, I applaud your kind remarks about it and especially about the extraordinary playing of Widor by Charles Krigbaum.

I'm pleased to note that Mr. Krigbaum is happily and healthily retired in nearby Hamden, CT. Anyone wishing to contact him can contact me, and I will provide the email address.

The Newberry Organ is one of the great organs of the world. It has been preserved, tonally and technologically, intact since its last rebuilding by the Skinner Organ Company in 1928-9. If anyone wishes to visit New Haven to see the instrument first-hand, I can assure them that they will be warmly received and shown the organ to its fullest extent.

Joseph Dzeda
Assoc. Curator of Organs
Yale University

wunelle said...

Thanks for the comment! I've had several comments about these organ posts from (I believe) a personal friend of yours, Mr. David Dunkle, and he has recommended contacting you for more information concerning this magnificent instrument.

I shall surely do so when I am next in your neck of the woods!

Thanks for stopping by. Your comments on this organ (and on anything else) are most welcome.