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Organs And Organists In Brittany


nachthorn
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I'm going on a short holiday to Brittany in the last week in June, going as far east as Rennes and Nantes. Does anyone know anyone who can let me play instruments in the area? I would play suitable music reasonably well and not make a fool of myself!

 

I was in Brittany a couple of years ago, and wandered into the Basilica in Guingamp to find someone practising. A passing verger-type saw my interest in the organ and ushered me up the stairs into the loft where the very accommodating organist in question let me play briefly, despite having no music, no organ shoes, and no adequate French. (They never covered the vocabulary needed to discuss Monsieur Cavaillé-Coll's finest work at school.) We spent a happy twenty minutes trying different tone colours. You can imagine it - he says "Zis stop is very... euh... very... ", holds arms wide, and makes growling noise with mouth. I try stop out, raise eyebrows in surprise and delight, and say "D'accord, très... er.... très... ", hold arms out, and approximate the growling noise in return. I borrowed a couple of his scores and had my eyes well and truly opened. He was actually rehearsing for a recital and I felt uncomfortable interrupting him, so I didn't stay any longer.

 

Anyway, I would love to repeat this experience, this time armed with music, shoes and a hastily compiled book of French organ vocabulary. Can anyone help me?

 

Nachthorn.

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We were over that way last year though a young family precluded much exploration. You could try:

 

http://www.ffao.com/

 

They are quite helpful crowd and they have a conference each year in a different part of the country. Their Brittany handbook was quite handy when we went. Their links page might also assist.

 

These links are also good - from the Dutch organists' association but with plenty to search through:

 

http://www.hetorgel.nl/links/lfrankrijk.htm

 

If you want to know about the organs built by the Dallams then Michel Cocheril is the person to contact. This will give you a taster:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/Reporter/jan93/c193.htm

 

Have fun!

 

AJJ

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You could try Rennes Cathedral - the Titulaire is Geoffrey Marshall (he is English). The main organ is a good example of the work of Cavaillé-Coll - although it was rebuilt in 1971 by Haerpfer-Erman; however, I do not know in what state the instrument is currently.

 

The cathedral organ:

 

http://perso.orange.fr/apo/orgue/doc/cathe.html

 

In addition, Dol-de-Bretagne is worth a visit. It is a charming town to the south and west of Mont S. Michel. The cathedral is beautiful in an old sort of way - parts of it look as if it just grew out of the landscape. It does smell rather damp and I have no idea who the organist is. However, another redeeming feature is that there is a good café on the south side of the cathedral, about level with the south transept.

 

I hope that you enjoy your holiday. If I can think of any more instruments or organists, I will post again.

 

I include this, just in case part of it may be relevant - I have not read through the details of every concert.

 

http://www.france-orgue.fr/disque/index.php?zpg=dsq.con

 

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In addition, Dol-de-Bretagne is worth a visit. It is a charming town to the south and west of Mont S. Michel. The cathedral is beautiful in an old sort of way - parts of it look as if it just grew out of the landscape. It does smell rather damp and I have no idea who the organist is. However, another redeeming feature is that there is a good café on the south side of the cathedral, about level with the south transept.

 

 

They occasionally have recitals here - Langlais responsible for the opening recital when it was last rebuilt. He originated from the area I think.

 

http://orgue.free.fr/of332.html

 

Here are a few more:

 

http://orgue.free.fr/province.html#5

 

AJJ

 

PS 'Agree with pcnd about the cafe!

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It's a bit out of the way, but the 2000 Henri Saby organ at St Pierre, Fouesnant Les Glénans must be worth seeking out. When I was there the local Office de Tourisme was selling CDs of the opening recital by Olivier Vernet so I picked on up. Well worth getting: it's not a live recording and the playing and the organ are both superb.

 

I don't have a contact, but I imagine your best bet is to phone the number at the bottom of this page:

http://www.orgues-cornouaille.org/F/Orgue%20Fouesnant.html

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Guest Hector5

In addition, Dol-de-Bretagne is worth a visit. It is a charming town to the south and west of Mont S. Michel. The cathedral is beautiful in an old sort of way - parts of it look as if it just grew out of the landscape. It does smell rather damp and I have no idea who the organist is. However, another redeeming feature is that there is a good café on the south side of the cathedral, about level with the south transept.

 

Wow- a blast from the past! My wife had to stop me gate-crashing a funeral at Dol-de-Bretagne so that I could hear the organ! We eventually waited - at the cafe, and then dashed in and met the 'funeral' organist. They are friendly bods, and I was allowed to play for some time. Tourists visiting were allowed up to watch, and in fact, the cathedral staff came up and watched also. By this time I had found the TUITTI tab and was playing the last movement of Vierne I and was lost in heaven. The staff said they had come to watch because it was the first time in some years that the organ had sounded 'happy'.

 

French church staff are so much more friendly these days. In St Maurice's Church, Lille yesterday, the church verger fell over himself to allow me to try the orgue de choeur, faffing around with numerous and very dangerous looking mains cables (the church is being rewired at present).

 

The area around our holiday home near Beaune (special offers to anyone interested in holiday rentals)) is also rich in pickings with some real stunners available - with CCs at Nuits St George (the organist is a lovely chap with an English grandmother!), Meursault, with Seurre, St Jean-de-Losne a short hop and a skip away. Dijon cathedral actively invites people to 'present' themselves at the stairs to the organ loft before the Saturday evening mass if they wish to watch the organists play. There is a superb new disc out 'Les Orgues de la Cote d'Or that has a small selection of some of the really good organs on the Ligia Digital label, and availabel from FNAC.

 

I also learnt that Lille cathedral is to have a 'new' organ - well a transplant. This is the old organ from Studio 104 in Paris - a real monster. Apparently the intention is that Klais will install the organ at the now completed west end. They are currently fundraising, and further information can be found on www.grandorgue.com.

 

 

 

Sorry - forgot to read the start of the thread! Anyhow - I can thoroughly recommend Burgundy for organ tours - and wine, of course!

 

Hector

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  • 7 years later...

An update......Rennes Cathedral main west end organ is a fine beast in reasonably good working order and the east end choir organ a real gem! I was lucky to be able to play both last week. There are also other interesting instruments in Rennes which are regularly featured in their annual recital series. Rennes is also a good place for a couple of days exploring and the rather good Saturday market (in the old city near the Cathedral) is one of the largest in France.

 

A

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