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Transcendent Organ Transplants to Hertz Hall
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December 15, 2013

Transcendent Organ Transplants to Hertz Hall

By Robert P. Commanday
How does one have a pipe organ acquired and installed? “Carefully” — the obvious, answer — is how the fine Noack organ found its way from a discontinued Delaware church to UC Berkeley’s Hertz Hall. On Sunday afternoon, the university organist, Davitt Moroney, the wise guide of this operation, produced a broad-ranged performance. It was a musically grateful display of the many shades of the hall’s new voice, beginning with three sets of solo works from the Baroque era. Then the University Orchestra joined in with the strikingly different, famous, and climactic “Organ Symphony,” Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3.

Moroney opened with Purcell’s Voluntary in G on the Noack’s Great section, its broadest, which produced a full sound for this majestic piece that grows, increasing in ornamental flourishes. The reeds were next brought into play on Froberger’s A-minor Fantasia, cleanly defining exquisite counterpoint made of a short subject, chromatically inflected. The Positive section of the organ, front and center, produced the warmer, darker color for the variations in J.C.F. Fischer’s F-major Chaconne, the 16-foot pipes producing deeply, sympathetically, absorbing. Moroney, in his gentle urbane manner, never didactic, introduced each set of pieces and the organ’s different personalities revealed in each piece.


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