HISTORICAL ORGANS IN FINLAND
- Thulé, Bror Axel 1894
- 18 stops, 2 manuals and pedal
- Barker machine action and pneumatic stop action
The wood church in Kerimäki is immensely large. It is jokingly said that this came about because the drawings were in feet but the construction was measured in metres. That could never have happened, of course; in reality, Kerimäki Church was intentionally made large enough to house half of the then current population of the parish. Completed in 1847 according to plans drawn up by the Office of Public Works, the church is a cruciform church with short, broad transepts.
The Bror Axel Thulé organ of the church is located in the loft above the main entrance. It looks quite modest in size, although it is in fact large and spaciously built. The organ has remained unchanged except for the addition of a blower. It is an interesting instrument, a typical mature example of its period. It is well suited for its function despite its apparent small size, and it has certain unique technical properties. Kerimäki Church has a second interesting historical instrument too, a chamber organ by Anders Thulé in the choir.
The pure Neo-Classical façade of the organ is divided into five parts, the middle one being the largest. It is bound by grooved Ionian pillars and topped with an imposing pediment with a cross on top. The arched flat contains the nine largest pipes of the Principal 8’. The outermost flats are oblong, each topped with a harp decoration. The intermediate flats are simple and almost unadorned. The wood structures of the façade are robust and strongly profiled. The façade may have been designed by Johan Kaupelin (later Kauppi), who at the time had just joined Thulé’s workshop as a foreman.
The case is painted white, with gilt decorations. It is distinct from the pillars of the church, which are painted to imitate light stone. The components of the organ are conventionally in line. The side and back walls are simple screens fitted to the frame. There is a considerable amount of space between the organ back wall and the church wall, due again to the voluminous proportions of Kerimäki Church.
The chests are stop channel chests of the type patented by Bror Axel Thulé, designed to compensate for fluctuations in wind pressure and to ensure reliable and even air flow. The chests are mechanical.
The console is in front of the organ, and the organist sits facing the altar. The console is diminutive, being narrower than the pedal keyboard. The stop knobs and one row of free combination knobs are placed above the upper manual keyboard. The music stand is a simple frame made of narrow strips.
The action is mechanical for Manual II and Pedal, but the action for Manual I has a Barker machine located beneath the Manual II chest immediately behind the façade. Its structure is a textbook example. The action from console to the machine and onward to the chest is mechanical. The manual couplings are concentrated around the machine, but the mechanical pedal couplings are in the console. The thin pipes required for the pneumatic action are of brass instead of the conventional lead. Because brass pipes are difficult to bend, all the pneumatic action pipes are straight, and the bends required run through wood blocks.
The wind supply is typical for the period and the builder. Under the chests there is a large double rise reservoir, under which again there are two wedge-shaped feeder bellows operated with foot levers. A capacious pipe leads from the upper frame of the bellows to a channel between the half-chests, from which the air passes through valves to the stop channels. The organ blower has a space to himself at the front left corner of the organ, under the chest. Access to this space is through the left end wall.
In front of the organ blower is a long transverse pole that rotates around its axis. Around it run two leather belts, each affixed to a foot lever. When the foot levers are depressed alternately, the pole rotates alternately in both directions. This construction ensures that the pedals always operate alternately. A second set of belts around the pole works the feeder bellows. Nowhere else has such a mechanism been preserved in Finland. The floor of the loft is angled, and this could have been a problem in using the conventional foot-lever system, and it may have been this feature that prompted the builder to seek an unconventional solution.
The sound of the organ is designed to be grandiose and massive. At the same time, the disposition aims at an extensive and continuous dynamic range, as was required at the time. Manual I and Pedal generate the power and core of the sound, while Manual II provides quieter and more poetic tones. From the point of view of the sound makeup, it is surprising that the Manual II division is located immediately behind the façade, while Manual I is behind the tuning space. However, the design is justified with regard to the mechanical action. The touch is light thanks to the Barker machine.
The mensuration of the pipes is only slightly larger than that used by Bror Axel Thulé in smaller churches. The volume is mainly due to the use of high mouths in voicing. The air flow through the pipes is high, because the footholes and flues are large. The pipes speak freely and with power, and the volume is further augmented by virtue of there being fewer nicks than usually. Some treble pipes have tuning cones to further brighten their tone. The sound dissipates naturally in the large church, and any roughnesses cannot be perceived by the listener sitting below.
Manual I C-f3
Manual II C-f3
Viola di Gamba 8f
Flöjt major 8f
Flöjt harmoniqve 8f
Couplings II-I, I-Ped, II-Ped, I 4’
Fixed groupings: Mezzoforte, Forte, Fortissimo
One free combination