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Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Existing and forthcoming Hauptwerk instruments, recommendations, ...

Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby Wwhel21 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 3:13 pm

hi all,

I'm considering purchase of a new "all-around" sample set. I currently own/ use a number of smaller sample sets (Menesterol, St. Eucaire, free 'composite' sets) and now would like something larger/ 'meatier'.

I have a 3-manual Classic Midi setup and what I'd term 'basic surround' with two amplifiers and two front and two rear speakers.

If you could only have one sample set, I'd appreciate opinions on the pros/ cons of Rotterdam Main vs Armley Schulze for this "all-around" purpose. I'm taking lessons and hopefully will be learning/ playing a broad variety of pieces.

I have demo sets of both these sample sets, have read Agnus_Dei's excellent review of the Armley, and have listened to pieces on Contrebombarde. Nevertheless, I'm still not clear on some issues:

Which would cover more of the repertoire?

Would you prefer one over the other for practice vs. performance?

Should I consider another sample set that in your opinion might do the job better?

Any leads are much appreciated.

Thanks!
Bill
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby rhedgebeth » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:10 pm

If you're taking lessons I'd suggest considering the Trinity Cathedral Rosales from Sonus Paradisi. For learning and finessing your performance a dryer acoustic is desirable (more so than Rotterdam, in particular). The Rosales set is superbly produced, the native voicing and tonal finishing is exquisite. It's an outstanding all-around French/American-English organ which has "all the right stuff" to handle the French repertoire baroque to modern. Dry enough to not mask your shortcomings, it's live enough to render beautiful performances when you've got it right.
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby Wwhel21 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:26 pm

hi Richard,

Thanks for the quick reply - I will check out the Rosales

To clarify a bit, I do use Menesterol - which is on the dry side - for much of my practice. I think at this point I'd like something a little more wet/ cathedral-like; I could always truncate the reverb on a "meatier" organ if necessary.

I'm working on a number of Bach prelude and fugues with more to come, so coverage of German Baroque would be desirable.

I guess my main concern is the scope of repertoire I'd be able to cover with the one larger instrument I'd like to invest in.

Best regards,

Bill
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby jwb » Sun Sep 03, 2017 2:47 am

I have the Rotterdam Main but not the Armley Schulze. The Rotterdam is a very good sample in the neo baroque style. It is very good for baroque music and church music in general, but I would say it is less suitable as a general all around instrument that covers all genres well. My instrument I use for that is the Goerlitz Sonnenorgel from Sonus Paradisi. I would highly recommend you have a look at it. To me, all styles of music sound good on it (including German Baroque).

It is a 6 channel surround sound sample thus it also has the advantage of switching the acoustic on the fly between direct (good for practicing, very short reverb) and diffuse (the normal long cathedral reverb). To do that however, you need to have at least 32GB of RAM in order to load both the front channels. If you want to load all 6 channels (ie load the rear channels as well), you need even more RAM. I only have 32GB of RAM, so I have loaded the instrument as such that the direct and diffuse channels mix for the front speakers and only the diffuse channel comes through the rear speakers. This gives a nice surround sound experience without losing clarity.

Regards,
Jaco
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby adri » Sun Sep 03, 2017 4:26 am

Wwhel21 wrote:hi Richard,

Thanks for the quick reply - I will check out the Rosales

To clarify a bit, I do use Menesterol - which is on the dry side - for much of my practice. I think at this point I'd like something a little more wet/ cathedral-like; I could always truncate the reverb on a "meatier" organ if necessary.

I'm working on a number of Bach prelude and fugues with more to come, so coverage of German Baroque would be desirable.

I guess my main concern is the scope of repertoire I'd be able to cover with the one larger instrument I'd like to invest in.

Best regards,

Bill


As an organ expert, long-time player and long time listener, my conclusion remains simple: an all-purpose instrument remains at all times a compromise, and for that reason they are often called "compromise organ".
Throughout history organ builders in different regions used very different approaches to building their organs, in terms of wind supply, wind chests, pipe alloys, pipe scaling, voicing, wind pressures, tuning pitches and temperament, and later action systems, etc.

The beauty of Hauptwerk is that for many of the historical literature, we have a rowing selection of appropriate choices.

It might be better to have smaller organs with proper historically accurate sounds, than one monster organ that supposedly does justice to music of all periods, which really is an oxymoron. It's really impossible to do that accurately.

Of course, much is to be said for a modern organ that is unified in style, truly musical and beautiful and which does better justice to music of past periods than an instrument that tries too hard to cover everything.

You could opt for several somewhat smaller organs to play your different style musics.

For Bach, you can consider Freiburg (Sonus Paradisi, 2 man./ped), or even Kreszow (Sonus Paradisi). Kreszow is wetter, but not too much (3 man./ped.).

For French baroque I recommend St. Michel de Tierache.

For Baroque/Roccoco/Classical Period/even early roman tic (up till ca.1820) music, I highly recommend Ottobeuren (OAM, Organ Art Media).

For North-German baroque: Stade or Steinkrichen (Organ Art Media). Stade is a bit drier; too dry for some.

A really dry organ is OAM's Waltershausen.

By the way, someone I think made a 3-manual extension of the Menesterol organ; not sure how this was done.

Have you at all considered really small organs, that are true beauties in their own right?
OAM:
Frechilla, Spanish baroque, 17th and 18th C
Duurswoude, FC Schnitger, 1723

SONUS PARADISI:
Claviorganum
Smecno, 16th C.
Rabstejn, 18th C.
Izola, Italian style 18th C.
Zlata Koruna, Czech, 1699

I personally cannot consider English type organs for European Continental music; likewise are we to play Bach on a French baroque organ? Or Buxtehude on a Cavaille-Coll (Oh, I've heard it done, and for a purist like myself, a bit hard to digest). :-)

English and English-styled American organs are very different instruments. The music is so different.
The Rosales organ strikes me (correct me if I'm wrong) as a very loud organ in a small room, a typical American phenomenon (they have the money for large organs but not the nice church spaces and acoustical ambiance).

Augustine (Augustine Virtual Organs, or AVO) is a sample set maker, whose sets I am not familiar with. His latest offerings have many improvements over the earlier ones. You can try sets before buying them.

A Polish sample set maker to watch for, with FREE organs (yes, indeed!)
https://www.piotrgrabowski.pl/instruments.html should be on your list as well.

This is my take, but your mileage may vary....of course.

Good luck with the sea of choices....

Dr. Adrian de Groot, organologist
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby Wwhel21 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:52 am

jwb wrote: My instrument I use for that is the Goerlitz Sonnenorgel from Sonus Paradisi. I would highly recommend you have a look at it. To me, all styles of music sound good on it (including German Baroque).

I only have 32GB of RAM, so I have loaded the instrument as such that the direct and diffuse channels mix for the front speakers and only the diffuse channel comes through the rear speakers. This gives a nice surround sound experience without losing clarity.


Thanks Jaco - I will check out the Goerlitz. I have 32GB RAM as well, so appreciate the configuration you suggested.

adri wrote:As an organ expert, long-time player and long time listener, my conclusion remains simple: an all-purpose instrument remains at all times a compromise, and for that reason they are often called "compromise organ".

The beauty of Hauptwerk is that for many of the historical literature, we have a rowing selection of appropriate choices.

It might be better to have smaller organs with proper historically accurate sounds, than one monster organ that supposedly does justice to music of all periods, which really is an oxymoron. It's really impossible to do that accurately.



Thanks very much Adrian for your perspective and your many recommendations. I appreciate your time and I will definitely check them out.

My inclination still is to find one larger instrument that will handle a lot of the repertoire, understanding I can't have it all. And then I can pick and choose from good quality, smaller sample sets, to fill in for a particular piece I may be working on. For this larger instrument, I can see it would be valuable to have the opportunity to move from diffuse to direct for practice work as Jaco pointed out.

Best regards,
Bill
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby seh52 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:13 am

No church organ tries to "have it all" more than The Great Organs of FCCLA: https://www.clrresources.com/fccla-the-great-organs/ :wink:
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby scottherbert » Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:35 am

Hi Bill, I totally agree with Adians' post. The true power of Hauptwerk is the ability to have individual organs that match the style of the music that you are playing authentically! I am guilty of forgetting this as well. When spending a large amount on a sample set, it is only natural to want it to tick as many boxes as you can. My personal solution was to find which one (genre) I like to play the most, and also required the most organ, and put the most money into that.

In other words, I like to play romantic genre most often, so I will buy the Caen. When I play baroque, I like a small, authentic organ, and Augustines Virtual organs has several that are wonderful. Sometimes Renaissance music is fun, and Sonus Paradisi has the Smecno set.

The fun with Hauptwerk is to use organs! You can play them from all over the world. Have fun! :D

~S
"Life is just a dream, it is in death that we truly awaken!"
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby OrganoPleno » Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:58 am

Wwhel21 wrote:If you could only have one sample set, I'd appreciate opinions on the pros/ cons of Rotterdam Main vs Armley Schulze for this "all-around" purpose. I'm taking lessons and hopefully will be learning/ playing a broad variety of pieces.


I'll put in a word for the Laurenskerk in Rotterdam. My main interests are Baroque and Modern Organ Music, and I find this instrument handles both styles excellently. And it has magnificent Reeds, including the best Trompettes en Chamade of any Sample Set I've encountered! Enjoy!
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby ludu » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:36 pm

… and an extension of Rotterdam Main is afoot.
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby Andrew Grahame » Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:00 am

If you are limiting your choice only to between Rotterdam and Armley, then I feel that Rotterdam should get your vote for being reasonably close to an "all-round" instrument. While it has areas of deficit it does cover a wider slice of the general repertoire than Armley.

However, don't be limited just by those two sample sets. As Dr Adrian has rightly pointed out above, Hauptwerk allows for a wide choice of individual instruments to suit specific genres, schools and nationalities within the organ repertoire. For example, he mentions Freiberg from Sonus Paradisi for Bach - an excellent choice - but for a modern instrument with strong baroque leanings you could try Poblet from Organ Art Media.

The Rosales instrument is indeed a large, loud instrument in a relatively small room. I don't even load the front direct ranks as they are just too brutal, and I push the listening perspective well back with the other ranks - and even then it's still very much "in your face". While this is a big organ it doesn't in my view fall into the "cathedral" category - unless you are prepared to add digital reverb to it.

As to practice vs performance - I view the Armley instrument as very much a "performance" organ, while Rotterdam Main - especially its wealth of lighter registrations - is good for both. For example, the Rugwerk Holpijp 8 plus Octave 4 is a combination one could happily practise on all day when learning the notes.

As to other sample sets - well, the best advice I can offer is to spend plenty of time listening to demo audio tracks and Contrebombarde Concert Hall performances, and where possible download and try demo sample sets - before you part with any money.

Andrew
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby Wwhel21 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:03 am

Thanks to all for your very helpful perspectives!

I can see that Rotterdam-Main is more versatile than Armley, so I will likely settle on that if I go for a larger instrument that will cover much of the Baroque/ modern literature I'll be working on. I can use my St. Eucaire sample set for the romantic pieces.

In the meantime, I will download demos of Augustine's offerings (e.g., Szentgotthárd for Baroque) and listen to more of the Poblet on Contrebombarde. It doesn't look like there is a download demo for Poblet. Also, someone on another topic recommended St. John Cantius for Baroque/ modern, which is donation-based. From what I'm hearing here, I may end up being totally satisfied with a few smaller instruments and save some $$ in the process.

Best regards,
Bill
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby josq » Mon Sep 04, 2017 12:25 pm

Some rules of thumb for buying Hauptwerk sample sets
* Cost and quality are roughly correlated, with rare exceptions
* Sample set quality tends to improve over time
* Some sample set makers tend to deliver higher quality than others
* Making quality your primary concern can save you many regrets
* If you keep yourself updated, you'll feel continously tempted to buy new sample sets and your collection will grow gradually
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby adri » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:25 am

josq wrote:Some rules of thumb for buying Hauptwerk sample sets
* Cost and quality are roughly correlated, with rare exceptions
* Sample set quality tends to improve over time
* Some sample set makers tend to deliver higher quality than others
* Making quality your primary concern can save you many regrets
* If you keep yourself updated, you'll feel continously tempted to buy new sample sets and your collection will grow gradually



Totally Amen to that. The Cantius organ is not the best instrument; Piotr's sampling is getting better, that isn't the issue; it's more the instrument itself which still carries too many spores of the neo-baroque movement, which I keep hoping would be a thing of the past.

The Rotterdam Main is somewhat in the same league. It still ahs that neo-baroque-ishness about it. Perhaps changing the tuning for older music might help bit, and revoicing. I only have the demo and it find it kind of blah. But then again, I grew up midst the organ garden of Europe: the Netherlands, and especially the northeastern part of Groningen.

Personally, I find a large 19th century organ that still has many more baroque elements in its building style way more exciting to play Bach on that cold-sounding narrow-scaled neo-baroque/modern organs, that do nto have that warmth and breath. And by breath I indeed mean breath, the way those instruments interact with the wind supply system.

Listen e.g. to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISR2il-JGqs
This organ has been sampled by Jiri Zurek; not sure when it will become available. Can't wait, as this is a magnificent instrument!

Listen more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLgZCOOgTdQ
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Re: Armley Schulze vs Rotterdam main

Postby Daniel Dries » Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:51 pm

I agree with Andrew that the Armley Schulze is a (rather spectacular) performance instrument. Although I have several 'cathedral' sets, I keep coming back to Sonus Paradisi Oakland Aeolian Skinner (with the extension) for learning repertoire. It is a an eclectic instrument with Neo-baroque leanings, although the celestes are rather amazing. More importantly, it sounds like it's in the room, and is the most responsive sample set I have experienced. It's incredibly realistic, but you don't get away with anything!
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