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Hymns on the Crystal Cathedral Organ
German Traditional, Joseph Barnby, John Newton
Hymns on the Crystal Cathedral Organ
Genres: Special Interest, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1


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A good recording, but not for "organ snobs"
Matthew T. Phillips | Winston-Salem, NC USA | 12/26/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)

""Organ snobs." Yeah, you know who you are, and I'm one too. This is not the recording for you. Swann plays at most three verses of each song, and does not improvise to the level he is capable, making the CD a great one for a more general-interest audience. I do not mean to disuade potential buyers, only to warn you that what you are getting is a quick couple of verses of each hymn on a CD that advertises the Crystal Cathedral as well or better than it portrays the talent of Swann and the extensive capacity of the Cathedral organs."
Among Organ Hymn CDs, this is really one of the best
D. Chambers | Arizona | 01/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am quick to criticize any organ CD that isn't really inspiring. It should be something that we want to play once again when we pick it up. This CD definitely doesn't lack such inspiration.

Mr Swann makes good use of the numerous ranks of pipes to achieve a superb voicing of the organ. His choice of pipes and their sequencing is among the best I have heard anywhere. The size of the cathedral gives a really superb reverberation. Call me sentimental, but this CD can raise the hairs on your spine, or at times bring tears to your eyes.

Those with decent heavyweight speakers will be able to accurately render the high and low notes (hint: if your home speakers are tinny or small, try this in the car--it might be better).

Note: I enjoy both sacred and secular organ: this CD resembles a classical recital to some degree. If your preference is vocal accompaniment, or modern church music with snare drums instead of organs, you will not be happy; fair warning. There is no choir, thankfully; plenty of such CDs exist elsewhere. For example the Mormon Tabernacle Organ is superior to nearly all others, but their organ is always subservient to the choir, so the organ cannot shine. Note: I am not opposed to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir--I flew up to Salt Lake City just to watch Thursday night Choir practice, and it is a uplifting experience not to be missed. But the organ cannot shine; it will be subservient to the choir--the resulting music is different from a pure organ CD. Also, they cram 30 hymns onto a CD--each track ends up being a medley of three hymns. Summary: how nice to have a pure organ CD, which is very rare.

One weakness which needs to be pointed out, in fairness (as in another review), is that each hymn lasts no more than two stanzas. So even though Mr Swann pulls out more and more stops as the pieces progress, and accomplishes key changes flawlessly, we can only imagine the wonderful fortissimo multi-pipe crescendo that would result if he played four or five stanzas of, say, "A Mighty Fortress" or "Rejoice," each building on the other. Alas, with twenty hymns on the CD, time is short for each hymn. This is my minor criticism of this CD. The answer clearly would have been to release vol 2, 3, 4, etc.... Could the faithful flock out in California please petition the pastor & get this done?

In conclusion, this is my old reliable and ranks (tied) in the top two of my organ CD collection. Most reviews in Amazon give 1 star or 5 stars (we love it or hate it). Five is really inadequate, it deserves 6; this from someone who doesn't like to give praise.

I hope this has been helpful in your purchasing deliberations. Please let me know via the comments button if you have additonal or contrary thoughts. Is there a better title? Thank you for your attention & courtesy.
King of hymns plays king of instruments
hugo_1950 | 08/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"we all know that the organ is called the king of instruments due to its complexity and size,range,color with its stops,etc. playing hymns is not the same as written comppositions for solo organ.why?because playing written organ works is just playing the composer notes what is written. on the other hand playing hymns requires a very well trained organ player that knows how to impro vise and add colors to each stanza. and that is what fred swann makes here,nobody plays hymns as he does,improvising,modulating and make us meditate in deep of what we hear.thank you mr swann. thank you gothic records.this is a must for everybody that goes to church,sings hymns or just likes organ music.don't hesitate to buy it,you will be able to see what a gifted musician does with a simple melody or hymn tune."