I’ve discovered and posted three tracks from some old field recordings I made on the magnificent Noack organ in All Saints’ Chapel at the Episcopal School of Dallas: two versets by Jehan Titelouze on the Advent Vespers hymn ‘Conditor alme siderum’ and the prelude on ‘O Welt, ich muß dich lassen’ that closes Brahms’s final set of compositions.
The extant recordings of Noack organs – and there are too few – focus especially on modern, especially what could broadly be termed neoclassical, works. These works deserve to be heard, and the instruments serve them well. Some of these pieces, however, lacking specific directions for characteristic registrations – or perhaps, being so new in some cases, lacking a consensus or context for registrational and other performance practices – don’t quite show what the organs can do.
Noack’s remarkable synthesis of influences, however, really shines in both Baroque (even late- and post-Renaissance) and – some would be surprised – Romantic music. This particular instrument, in fact, is the very one that taught me to appreciate and to play Brahms’s organ works, and I can attest that, say, Franck and Howells sound equally well on this and other later Noack organs. It is to be hoped that more recordings of a wider variety of music will be made on instruments such as this one and those in Lakeside Park, Kentucky, and La Crosse, Wisconsin, and that future generations of organbuilders will study and learn from their legacy.