When we set out to design the "Grande Orgue" at St. Ignatius Loyola, we endeavored to build a tracker-action (i.e. mechanical) organ which would serve the romantic repertoire especially well. To this end, the voicing team of N.P. Mander, Ltd., of London, England, my friend, Keith Toth, and I visited historic pipe organs in Normandy by the famous French romantic organ builder, Aristide Cavaille-Coll. From this experience we learned that which one would expect: Cavaille-Coll throughout his career was a dynamic and changing artist. He clearly took advantage of historic pipework and materials when these were available to him on a given work site. While one of his instruments actually served the polyphonic repertoire quite well, with leaner scaling and voicing which bridged the classical and romantic eras, his later instruments (for example, at the Cathedral in Rouen) were clearly designed for the performance of romantic music only. This was exciting to see, for what we hoped to achieve was an instrument that indeed would play a broad spectrum of literature, yet would especially bring the music of the French romantic school to life. There were several reasons for this. First, the vibrant parish liturgical life required an instrument which would amply support the singing of hymns and service music, as well as to provide accompaniment for choirs and soloists. Improvisation during the service was also a consideration. Second, the New York area had no large tracker-action organ (the largest at the time was in Alice Tulley Hall, more than 1000 pipes smaller than St. Ignatius Loyola). The musical scene lacked a mechanical action instrument which would provide the colors and dynamics necessary for a performance of the romantic idiom. Third, it made sense to create an instrument with a "French" accent, given the fact that the French romantic school of composition is such an important part of the Roman Catholic musical heritage. Add to this list the fact that the church itself is a splendid acoustical environment, and you have an exciting project indeed! The pipe organ you hear on this recording is everything we hoped it would be and more. It has fast become one of the world's most renowned instruments, and it is regularly visited by organists and aficionados from around the globe. it is heard regularly in worship and publicly throughout the year in some fourteen concerts sponsored annually by the church. I trust you will now enjoy hearing it, as captured by Jeremy R. Kipnis of Ephiphany Recordings, in this program of romantic music, the very repertoire for which we set our high aim. -- Kent Tritle
ReviewsOne of Audiophile Audition's Best Recordings of the Year for 1996.