Instruments

A look in the collection of Jos van Immerseel

It is no secret that Jos van Immerseel cherishes a deep passion for historical keyboard instruments. Over the years, a number of magnificent examples have come into his life – and stayed there! Van Immerseel’s collection, housed in a workshop/music library near Bruges, now comprises a wide range of original and reconstructed instruments: from harpsichord to Hammond organ and from clavichord to concert grand, together covering 200 years of keyboard history. A private museum? Not in the least: this collection lives and resounds between stage and CD recording, starring as a soloist, creating exquisite chamber music or standing proudly alongside the orchestra. Welcome to a virtual visit!

Jos van Immerseel : “Good, historical grand pianos are seldom heard live in concerts today. In this case, ‘good’ means an intact historical piano that is still (or once again) very close to its condition as envisaged by the builder; or a meticulously created facsimile; or a masterly recon­struction that endeavours to equal the original, both technically and artistically. The few grand pianos that meet these criteria are usually part of museum collections or are in private ownership, which means that they are never accessible to the public – or if so, only in their ‘place’ in the museum. As a result, less good instruments – sometimes also in less good condition – are increasingly used on the stage, in fact giving a blurred view of the world of sounds heard in previous centuries. After all, first-class instruments in top condition create dazzling music in Technicolor! But their damaged contemporaries remain well below par and even compare poorly against the crowd-pulling range of the modern grand piano. The historically inspired performances of the past half a century have somewhat adjusted the Darwinian thinking regarding instrument building as far as Baroque music and the harpsichord are concerned, but the revival of the concert grand piano from the 18th and 19th centuries has proved to be a more difficult, longer process. I hope that in the past 40 years, through study and a fine collection of unique pieces, I have helped cover part of this path.

Without excellent companions along the way, it would have been impossible to start out on this mission. I am grateful for the expertise and assistance of some of Europe’s best builders and restorers whom I have been able to meet over the past decades. Thanks to them, today it is possible to discover the magnificent, enticing sounds of Classical and Romantic keyboard instruments in the concert hall, on recordings and – yes, that’s right, now on line as well. The ultimate dream? To enable music lovers, listeners and fellow musicians to enjoy with me what these little gems have to say with so much eloquence, even after all these years.”

Hammond

Chicago, 1958

Concert organ “Hammond” RT-3, coming from the BBC with PR-20 sound-cabinet ca.1948 Leslie-Box, date unknown

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Hammond orgel Jos van Immerseel