An organ recital


Nearly ten years have passed since I last enjoyed live organ music so I thought I'd better remind myself of the real thing. An online search provided an opportunity to enjoy a half hour recital. It was mid afternoon only a couple of days later in a large church in the city. Having a free day I took along my Galaxy 140 SPL meter (and my wife) and placed myself half way along the body of the church. I read through the programme and details of the organ on the leaflets kindly provided as I waited for others to arrive. It seemed very odd to turn my back on the organ. So I reversed and sat on one of the chairs provided at the end of each pew.

Though certainly not of cathedral proportions the beautiful organ sported several 16' stops. Right on time the organist launched straight in and averaged 80dB(C) throughout. Only on the quietest moments did the sound level drop down to 70dB(C). Background noise level was 45dB(C) with occasional 50dB(C) peaks when a member of the tiny audience coughed. I believe we were only five in total which really did not do justice to the excellent playing! This Danish organ was quite unlike anything I'd ever heard in the UK. Very much brighter and considerably more nasal at times than I remembered. The Walther variations provided an amazing range of stops with many different voices on display.

My IB is certainly capable of playing much louder and deeper than this particular organ on the programme material we enjoyed today. The IB's detail and weight in the bass was easily on a par with this real organ. Very realistic indeed!

What I had not expected were the high average levels of the performance covering 4 composers and as many superbly contrasting works. Though I only saw a few maximum peaks at around 86dB(C) I now realise that I listen at home with the bass rather hotter than a real organ but with my average listening levels a few dB lower than reality. This makes for a much more comfortable experience. Particularly when spread over several hours rather than a short recital. Now I'd really like to find a cathedral organ with 32' stops to compare with my IB.