Listen to The New Organ At St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, performed by the Cathedral organist Konstantin Reymaier. The sounds of a mighty organ on the west gallery of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna once again fill the interior of one of the world’s most beautiful churches. The giant organ (130 stops), which had not been playable for 25 years, has now been restored by the organ building company Rieger and connected to the choir organ (55 stops) at the front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which was also built by Rieger in 1991. Both instruments can now be played not only from a mobile central console in the nave but also from a second central console in the gallery. The connection of the two organs makes it possible, for the first time in the history of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, for the sound of the new organ to fill the whole of the interior, with its volume of 100,000 cubic metres (3½ million cubic feet – larger than London’s Royal Albert Hall), from a central console with five manuals and now a remarkable 185 stops.
At the heart of the project is a completely new tonal concept developed jointly by the Cathedral organist, Konstantin Reymaier, and the organ-building firm of Rieger in consultation with a number of eminent organists including Olivier Latry, the titular organist at Notre-Dame in Paris, Thomas Trotter from London and the Mainz Cathedral organist, Daniel Beckmann.
Everyone involved with the restoration project regarded creating a richly varied palette of colours that would be altogether unique as a precondition. Nor were the acoustics of the cathedral overlooked – the porous sandstone, the width of the Cathedral and the architecture’s many decorative elements which would simply absorb the sound. The result is an astonishingly powerful and versatile instrument with countless shades of colours that remain transparent and clearly audible. It is this combination that makes the new organ so special.
One special feature of the new organ at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, are the pipes, which are up to 12 metres (39.37 feet) long, and are among the instrument’s case pipes, making up its façade. This particular speciality was already a feature of the large organ built by Walcker in 1886 and destroyed in the fire that ravaged the Cathedral in 1945. The new organ is capable of truly filling one of the world’s most beautiful church interiors with its sounds.
The repertoire featured on the recording The New Organ At St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna has been selected to showcase the versatility of the instrument and to take listeners on a musical tour of the Cathedral. No programme would be complete without organ classics including Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, but the highlight of the album is undoubtedly the music by the film composer John Williams which allows the new organ to display an unsuspected range of tone colours.
To ensure the album does full justice to the sound quality of the new organ, the recording has been released not only as a CD but also as Blu-ray Audio in Stereo 96/24 as well as 5.1 Surround Sound, Dolby Atmos, and digitally in these versions.
The New Organ At St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, performed by the Cathedral organist Konstantin Reymaier, can be bought here.