Alkmaar: Organs of the Laurenskerk – Digital

Alkmaar: Organs of the Laurenskerk – Digital

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Alkmaar: The Organs of the Lauresnkerk contains more than 3 hours of film. Its centrepiece is a one-hour documentary filled with music and gorgeous, abundant visual detail, detailing the 500 year organ history of the Laurenskerk in Alkmaar, a church that includes both an organ from 1511 by Jan van Covelens as well as the world-famous 1646 / 1723 van Hagerbeer / Frans Caspar Schnitger organ.

Throughout the film, the resident organists of the Laurenskerk, Pieter van Dijk and Frank van Wijk, provide in-depth commentary and also perform many suitable pieces of music from Sweelinck to Bach. They are joined by Paul Binski, Professor of Art History at Cambridge University, who explains the history and meaning of the spectacular case of the organ, designed by Palladian architect van Campen with magnificent shutter paintings by Caesar van Everdingen.

There is also footage and music from the Pieterskerk in Leiden and the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. These two organs, much more rarely heard than the famous Alkmaar ones but built by many of the same people, allow us to get a sense of what the Alkmaar organ was like in the 1600s, before Frans Caspar Schnitger rebuilt it in a North German style.

A 30-minute film details the history of the van Covelens organ. There is more than an hour of demonstrations of the Leiden, Amsterdam and Alkmaar west-end organs, all filled with musical examples – no detail is left unspared and the full gamut of stops from the 24’ principal at Leiden to the 16’ cornet at Amsterdam to the unprecedented chamber music reeds at Alkmaar are all heard.

A 15-minute film features Piet Kee, a famous former organist of the Laurenskerk, giving his thoughts on the Laurens-organ, plus an erudite explanation of his composition Merck toch hoe sterk, performed in full on camera by Frank van Wijk, who is a former student of his. A 3-minute film about the organ builders Flentrop, who restored the Alkmaar organs and generously sponsored the filming, shows their workshops in Zaandam, including the organ of the Katharinenkirche in Hamburg which was set up in their workshop when we filmed.

Last but not least are half an hour of beautifully played filmed performances from all four organs by Pieter van Dijk, Frank van Wijk, Leo van Doeselaar and Bernard Winsemius.