VIRTUAL ITALIAN ORGANS FOR HAUPTWERK

MALPAGA (BERGAMO) PARISH CHURCH

The organ of the Malpaga church is a small instrument corresponding to the so-called "Cecilian" style, as it was defined - with a certain arrogance dictated by an ideological approach that lasted from the 60s to the 90s of the twentieth century that a priori denied its value - the tendency of the Italian organ-building to emancipate itself from the nineteenth-century taste dominated by the imitation of the opera.

A trend that followed the realization, by the most skilled musicians of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, of the enormous distance between nineteenth-century Italian organ music - precisely flattened on an opera imitation often of a very low level and which did not even arise the problem of the possibility of a more advanced and mature technique - and the oldest Italian one but above all the Central European one, from Bach and his predecessors to French Romanticism up to German Expressionism.

The Marzoli & Rossi company, active in Varese (northern Lombardy) in the first quarter of the twentieth century, was among the first to propose a type of organ that - without renouncing mechanical transmission and the so-called "a vento" wind-chest (the italian "a vento" wind chest is equipped with small valves under each pipe instead of the sliding slats of the slide wind chest) so dear to the Italian tradition and partly maintaining its character intonation - exceeded the limits of instruments built up to then by equipping them with extended pedalboards, complete first octaves and stops finally no longer limited to bass or discant only; intonation was also brought closer to the taste inaugurated a few decades earlier in France by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, without renouncing - as already said - the lightness of the Italian style.

The organ built in 1908 for the Malpaga church shows, alongside the use of a very traditional italian "a vento" wind-chest, a perfect mastery of mechanical design up to the installation of the Barker lever for the first octave of the manual, passing through a particular system for the movement of the stop knobs - which are activated when the combination pedal is pressed without however canceling the registration entered manually.
The build quality is top notch both in the joinery and in the construction of the wooden and metal rods: there is a meticulous attention to detail unknown to Serassi themselves, who were satisfied with perfect efficiency without worrying excessively about the finishes.

As proof of the validity of this style and of the way in which it was interpreted by these particular organ builders, we note that, despite its limited size, the Malpaga organ was defined by a French concert player "a pétit Cavaillé-Coll" due to the similarity of the sound resources and for constructive care, not the least reason for its perfect condition of efficiency more than a century after construction.

Stop list / Specification

Organ built in 1908 by Marzoli & Rossi from Varese. Single manual of 58 keys C1-La5 for 58 real notes. Straight pedalboard of 27 keys for 27 real notes. Knob stops in a single horizontal row on the front of the keyboard. Stop list:

Pedal Manual
CONTRABASSO 16 P PRINCIPALE 16 P (C1-Eb2 borrowed from Contrabasso 16)
BASSO 8 P PRINCIPALE 8 P
OTTAVA 4 P
UNDA MARIS 8 P (from C2)
FLUTA 8 P
FLAUTO 4 P
GAMBA 8 P
VIOLA 4 P
VOCE CELESTE 8 P (from C2)
CROMORNE 8 P
TROMBA 8 P
XII
XV 2 P

Principale 16' C1-Eb2 pipes are borrowed from Contrabasso 16; the first octave of the manual is equipped with a Barker pneumatic lever.
Six brass foot-levers on the front of the pedalboard for Manual-Pedal union, Tromba 8, Concerto Viole (inserts Principal 16 from E2, Gamba 8 and Voce Celeste 8), Mezzoforte (Principals 16, 8, 4, Flutes 8 and 4, Gamba 8 ), Ripieno and Tutti.

Currently the organ is playable, used in liturgy and occasionally for concerts; it is presented in good conditions of efficiency, intonation and tuning.

sample-set for hauptwerk

The sampling was carried out in a single session in October 2012 using a microphone station in the organ balcony (NOS configuration at the height of the façade pipes and about 1,5 meters away). The sound pick-up in the organ balcony guarantees freshness, attack precision and an excellent stereophonic image of the pipes body, resulting on the other hand almost completely dry and free from ambient acoustics.

The recording was made at 96 kHz and 24 bits, reduced to 48 kHz after processing.
In addition to the noise of the bellows and wind, all the mechanical noises of keyboards, pedals and stops were sampled.

In 2020 the acoustics of the Malpaga church was rebuilt using the plugin Impulse Modeler (Voxengo) in synergy with an appropriate treatment of the original samples aimed at obtaining the correct stereophonic image as well as audible at a greater distance: the initial concerns about proposing samples with digitally reconstructed reverb fell immediately after the first tests, the results of which proved to be almost indistinguishable from recordings made in the church in 2012 at the same time as the sampling.

The sample set will therefore be four-channel and, similarly to the Costa Serina, it will be possible to virtually move from the position in the organ balcony to that in the nave.

As usual, alongside the faithful reproduction of the original instrument, an extended version will be proposed which in this case is equipped with two manuals, greatly expanding the musical possibilities.

The sample set - for Hauptwerk versions 4.22 and higher - will be available approximately by the end of summer - early autumn 2020: follow the updates on this page!