Small review of the Tholen sample set
I received this set free of charge in exchange for translation work done for their website as well as another larger project. So, as a token of gratitude I am offering a small review, after trying the set for about a week now.
First of all: the sampling quality is tops; the implementation of the "slider" is very successful; the acoustics are very pleasant, not too much and not too little; "just perfect". So Voxus has shown what they can do as a relative newcomer onto the scene of sample set makers. Indeed: high quality sampling! The delays have been worth it, I feel.
Because I no longer live in Holland since 1973, I cannot speak well about this organ for contemporary or early 20th century Dutch worship material, which is quite popular among organists there. The popular tremulants are very well implemented, and you have one on each manual!
Rather, I will speak more from the angle of the organ literature of the past, focused especially on the time period of a few decades before and after the year in which the Tholen organ was built. The 19th Century choral fantasias (e.g. Samuel de Lange), JG Bastiaans, Richard,Hol, CF Hendriks Jr., et.al. go extremely well here. I have tried several of their works on it already.
Note: If you are expecting too much from this organ, you might be disappointed. It's not a Baroque organ. it doesn't have that kind of brilliance. Yet, lots of baroque music will still go well here, however. But I do believe that it is very necessary to suspend all expectations for a moment and allow the organ to speak for itself. To force your own musical tastes on this or any organ would be an error anyway. It is never a good approach; after all, but there is so much music that will go very well here. Since Hauptwerk has a growing number of organs for every kind of music and taste (well, almost---I would welcome a large Renaissance organ like Leiden), there is no need for false expectations, nor forced approaches.
This organ invites me to discover all kinds of new music, and challenges me to work around the organ's shortcomings. So, it can and probably will make me a better musician. Also, not too complicated piano/keyboard music (especially early pianoforte repertoire) will additionally do very well here, as well as of course early and late rococo/classical organ music.
Tholen has a very low and only Mixtuur stop, but thanks to Hauptwerk, you can employ the octave coupler to add brilliance, if you wish. Perhaps Voxus could add such a feature for just this stop alone, as now all registers sound an Octave higher with this "trick".They wanted to stay as close as possible to the original organ, and I respect that fully. But nevertheless: a big thanks for the additional pedal couplers! Anyway, "we all have pipe dreams". The original "error", i.e., shortcomings in the plenum are indeed with the organ itself, and totally not with Voxus, who have done an absolutely fantastic job. In the plenum, the Posaun is tremendous, very impressive! It really adds that extra "oomph" to the tutti.
And that is one's challenge: you have to learn to deal with this organ, but as long as you do that and nothing more is expected, the organ will give you truly great satisfaction. It is a very musical two-manual organ with 3 manuals. The Knol organ in Hasselt has a mechanism on the Ruckpostiv that makes it possible to produce echoes. But here in Tholen you can do so with a 3rd keyboard! And that echo has a wonderful reed as well, as well as a 2' flute, which I really like a lot.
You can play chorale preludes of various periods, even by Bach and his contemporaries. As far as the larger Preludes & Fugues are concerned: if you register carefully, it can work; just don't overdo it with the number of stops. And/or use my octave coupler trick (!?). And 19th century sonatas in the Mendelssohn tradition will go very well here.
If I were the regular organist of Tholen, I would be very happy there and not complain about its minor shortcomings (and which organ is perfect, after all?). It is, and this is important, and I say it again, a very musical instrument, and the sampling is fantastic. The acoustics are perfect as well.
This organ is really growing on me and that's an excellent sign!
So if you are ready to start a new adventure, then Tholen is a very good choice. There is so much to explore with appropriate music! With so much free music in the public domain, such explorations do not have to cost too much either. Perhaps your library is already full of late 18th and early 19th century music, which still remains a somewhat overlooked corner of musical history.
Again, I want to congratulate the Voxus team with their quality results, and they are just getting started.......but enough said, time to play!
Bottomline: I highly recommend this sample set! It can and probably will make you a better musician.
P.S. The only thing I am puzzled about is the "Touch 3d" screen of the console, as the stop knobs are too small and on the left and right there is way too much wasted white space; this layout should be much larger and the stop labels ought to a lot bigger. I feel I cannot use this approach at all. It's probably set up for people to program stop knobs they already have on their console.
The addition of a man walking up the stairs and getting seated at the console is cute. Are there any other hidden surprises???