From Analog Tape

John Fenstermaker plays French Organ Music

John Fenstermaker

Original Recording Format: Analog Tape
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Ever since the twelfth century when Léonin and Pérotin as organists of Notre-Dame in Paris helped make France the musical center of western civilization, the organ in France has maintained a vitality and popularity peculiar to that country. The rich melodic mine of Gregorian chant, the unbroken emphasis on liturgical improvisation, the imaginative and innovative developments in organ building: all these have been factors in a strong tradition which has produced such composers and performers as Francois Couperin, César Franck and Olivier Messiaen. This recording is a sampling of the last two and one-half centuries of French organ music. Grace Cathedral is an especially appropriate setting 



Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Recueil de noels formant 4 suittes: Suite No. 2 - I. Votre bonte grand Dieu
Offertoire - Muzete
Pieces d'orgue pour le Magnificat: Suite du premier ton
Litanies, AWV 100
Organ Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 20 - II. Choral
Organ Symphony No. 6 in G Minor, Op. 42, No. 2 - II. Adagio

Total time: 00:41:37

Additional information





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Mastering Engineer

Bruce Brown of Puchet Sound Studio Puget Sound Studios received the tapes from Wilson Audiophile Recordings, LLC, in a wooden crate. Master Tapes were then catalogued in an excel spreadsheet. Each Master Tape was then inspected, cleaned with an anti-fungal solution, and then a lubricant was applied to prepare the Master Tapes for the transfer process. Approximately 8 of the first 13 reels had to be baked to reformulate the binding. This was done in an incubator at 135 degrees for 24  hours and then they were left to cool back down to room temperature for the next 24 hours. All splices were inspected and repaired, if necessary. 


David Wilson utilized two Schoeps transformerless omnidirectional condenser microphones to capture the unique sound of Grace Cathedral. Extensive tests spanning more than fourteen months had eliminated numerous other microphone configurations. The Schoeps consistently exhibited the smoothest frequency response, lowest IM distortion, and the least midrange nasality of any of the units tested. The microphones were carefully spaced to minimize out-of-phase bass pickup. Coincident pairs of capsules were tested and rejected for this record because, while sounding accurate over headphones, they simply did not provide to the listener of loudspeakers a convincing sense of the cathedral’s spacious ambience. A custom-built vacuum tube microphone preamp was found to yield the most natural tonal and spatial characteristics. Scotch 250 Studio Mastering Tape was selected because of its superior S/N ratio and low asperity modulation. Lacquers were cut using high quality half-speed mastering, with minimal signal processing, at the JVC Cutting Center. Superb matrixing at Sheffield Lab produced flawless stampers.

Original Recording Format

Recording Engineer

David Wilson, Craig Good

Recording location

Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

Release DateOctober 13, 2014

Press reviews

The Absolute Sound

“Dave Wilson’s choice of mikes and their placement… has captured the musical lines of these pieces with greater clarity than it is possible to hear from the usual listening positions. I have nothing but admirations for the realism they have captured.”


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