Everything about Holland!

On Tuesday afternoon, from her balcony and with the singing of birds, taking her well-deserved rest, Cristina tells us about the adventures before and during her trip to Holland.



Until a few days before leaving, there was no certainty that the trip could happen, given the global health emergency due to Covid.



Daniël van Horssen, a recording technician with whom she has been working since 2017 to record at St. Bavo's church in Haarlem, the Netherlands, organized the trip' logistics.


He was the one who proposed to make the Alkmaar album, and thanks to his organized way of working, really gigantic projects have been achieved. At the time of starting to work on the Altenburg and Naumburg albums, Cristina felt that the best thing was to hire Daniël again, pending a visit to Leeuwarden, Holland.

The original plan was to travel in August, but the pandemic didn't allow it. The opportunity arose to go for a week in October, with the virus already a tad under control but with a difficult economic outlook.


It was then that, together with Pastor Jerónimo Granados, of the German Evangelical Congregation, they organized a series of concerts. This opportunity served to present four different programs; two during September 19th and 20th and two for Heritage Day, on October 3rd and 4th.


Coming the trip's date, Cristina crossed the Atlantic, arriving in Amsterdam, where she had four days of friendly reunion with her great friend and colleague, Mtro. Matteo Imbruno, leaving a few hours for preparation before moving to Leeuwarden on October 11th. With the stay booked in a bed and breakfast in front of the church of Saint Jacob (Jacobijnerkerk), everything was going according to plan for the making of the new album.


During the first two days in the city of Leeuwarden, Cristina was able to visit several restaurants in the area before many stores closed due to a rise in Covid cases. On the fourth day -Thursday 15th-, at 3:20 pm, our dear Cristina completed her new double CD (each disc with almost 79 minutes of music!), thus finishing recording Bach's integral work! And she celebrated it, as the pandemic allowed, with a supermarket dinner in her room.


After finishing the recording of the Prelude and Fugue in E minor BWV 548, Cristina tells us:

“There I felt: Oh! I think I finished recording all of Bach's work for organ. As much as I kept accumulating music and music and music and music and I didn't want to ever finish, but something told me: The pandemic situation, the age, the normal fatigue from having done so much so far. (…) That I told myself: I can plant a flag right now. I mean, if I have the opportunity to continue recording (…), yes, I'll continue recording (…) But, it came together well, because if you realize there are 25 discs in physical quantity (…), in 25 years. (…) So I said to myself: 25 years plus 25 discs equals 50. I'm celebrating 50 years of my activity as a music professional, how nice. I love it. Period."


After a swab test, Cristina traveled to the city of Zaandam, where she stayed in a hotel in front of the train station for four days. There she enjoyed the environment and the professional and friendly dialogues she had with the sound engineer - Daniël van Horssen, who lives in that city with his family.


Cristina then explains a few things about the organ where she performed the remaining works to complete her collection: The pedalboard would present a certain challenge. For this reason, Cristina practiced at home before traveling, taking a position similar to the one she would take on the Jacobijnerkerk instrument. Instead of pressing the pedals with her legs stretched out forward, Cristina moved the bench closer to the organ so that her legs were bent towards her. Another curiosity that she shares with us is that the pedals, especially the manuals, are quite heavy, requiring a great physical effort to execute very fast compositions.


Cristina tells us that the instrument has three keyboards, and it's beautiful, commenting that the timbres within the registers of the main family have a sound similar to the violas da gamba. This organ would be like the younger brother to the organ located in Saint Bavo, Haarlem, built by the same organ maker: Christian Müller, about the year 1730 approximately.


Cristina dedicated her days of recording from 9 in the morning until noon, stopping for lunch, and then continuing until 4:30 in the afternoon. After dinner - at snack time in Uruguay - she would return to the church for a few more hours of work until 9 or 10 at night.


Cristina explains that each piece is recorded at least three times to ensure that she has the best possible material for editing and production.


As an anecdote, she shares a memory about her album dedicated to Joan Baptista Cabanilles:

“I asked -the technician- how it was going to be, right? If there is a possibility to cut, to repeat in case I made a mistake.


He said: But of course.


So I said to him: Well, but… What? Is it all cut and pasted?


Of course, the technician tells me.


To which I replied: But then it's not true what one plays, it is a bit of a joint.


And he told me something that was wonderful to me: We put the best of you. I mean, we take the best versions and try to paste them, making the works sound at their best.


And I loved it because that didn't exist long ago when you couldn't make those tricks, those patches. Before it was recorded in one go, with blunders or without blunders if you were a genius..."


Taking a train to Amsterdam, a plane to Madrid, and another to Montevideo after a ten-hour wait, Cristina finally returned home.



See you next week with more!

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