The organ façade in the Cathedral of Madrid
Façade design by S. Platt
La Cadereta (The Positive)
The Órgano Mayor (The Great Manual)
View of façade pipes from the inside
This organ was conceived as a synthesis of the Central European Organ Building Traditions at the end of the XX century, along with the richest and most interesting contributions of the Iberian School which we have studied in our extensive restoration work on many historical instruments.
This instrument is meant to add solemnity to important celebrations as well as various cultural acts; it must therefore be not only highly versatile but call attention to itself physically and musically in a challenging acoustical setting of such grand dimensions.
Despite its size, the instrument is capable of great sensitivity musically, and like all works of art it wants to create a balance between all the different elements which go into making it up. Its 71 stops allow for a wide range of performance possibilities.
Four of the organs five divisions are present in the façade, in which the instruments internal structure clearly delineated (Werkprinzip). Each division fulfils a function and has distinct musical features.
The Rückpositiv or Cadereta is placed at the organists back and adds brilliance to the whole. Besides its role as an accompanying division, stops such as the Flauta travesera or the Cromorno are true solo stops. The Cadereta is divided into two separate parts; this removes all obstacles to the organists field of vision and facilitates his contact with the choir and the assembly.
The Great Organ or Órgano Mayor is the instruments backbone, its main division. It is based on the 16' pipes in the centre. The façade is topped with an ornamental golden sun.
The Recitativo-Expresivo is an indispensable division for the performance of Romantic-style music. This division contains stops of great warmth both in timbre and harmonics; the result is acoustically rich and colourful. This division is also enclosed in a swell box which allows us to achieve a wide dynamic range.
The Trompetería de Batalla or Solo manual functions as a subdivision of the trompetería de batalla on historical Iberian organs, but also includes other stops such as the Corneta as well as a Violón 8' or the Flauta Dulce 4' which let us switch from a primarily solo function to an accompanying role. The "en chamade" trumpets, apart from the visual impact of horizontal pipework also gives the instrument a pronounced and unique sound.
Pedal: The two 16' pedal towers flank the Órgano Mayor and house the 32'and 16' pipes. There are also solo stops in the pedal division.
Since the churchs acoustics demand an instrument in which precision and clarity are of utmost importance, suspended tracker action was used, and even though all the pipes are fed directly from the windchest, the organist still feels the action is sensitive and light even when the four manuals are coupled.
After the organ had been completely mounted in the church and the finishing touches put on the case, the instrument was artistically voiced so as to make it both generous and energetic. (Let no one mistake this for simply loud or even forced). And in spite of the lively acoustical situation, our aim was to give the organ a clean and transparent sound even in the farthest nooks and crannies of the church.