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Ste Clotilde

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I found the last photo on this page intriguing. How long has Ste Clotilde had four manuals and 83+ stops?

 

There is a story behind all this and somewhere stoplists etc. but I forget where - certainly the recent work at Ste C has not been without discussion in the organ world of Paris - many 'big guns' have had their say.

 

AJJ

 

Later.....here's something - but still only 3 manuals!

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Later.....here's something - but still only 3 manuals!

 

This is very intriguing, since I played it on a trip in my last year at RNCM (2001) and it had just had some restoration work done which had finished, if not the day before we got there, then very recently. Madame Langlais said that it was to recapture the spirit of the Franck organ (while retaining the later additions) and, if I remember right, involved some relocation of pipework.

 

But, according to the above, 2 years later it seems to have gained a chamade, 32' reed and various other things that weren't there in 2001. If anyone has any info / links as to what happened and why, I'd be very interested!

 

Paul

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But, according to the above, 2 years later it seems to have gained a chamade, 32' reed and various other things that weren't there in 2001. If anyone has any info / links as to what happened and why, I'd be very interested!

 

Paul

 

As far as I can remember there was a major 'ding dong' with various factions etc. all voicing opposite opinions with the builder doing what he was asked by the authorities - yet upsetting others. I thought it was aired on here at one point but maddeningly I can not recall where or retrieve it.

 

AJJ

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Well....

As it sometimes may happen in Britain as well, there are,

sometimes, some discussions on the Continent too.

The people are the same everywhere!

 

Pierre

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There is some additional information on the Dargassies web site, but my French isn't quite good enough to decipher it all accurately.

 

Towards the top of the "News" section you will find a letter from Francois-Henri Houbart in support of the work (and citing Michel Chapuis as also being in favour of it) and further down a copy of Dargassies reply to an (apparently very critical) article written by Guy Bovet.

 

Under "Chantiers" you will find a link to Relevage de L'orgue de Ste. Clotilde which has the specification of what still appears to be a 3 manual instrument, and from which I deduce that the chamades and the 32' pedal reed are "prepared for", but not much else apart from a note to the effect that since much of the information about the St Clotilde instrument has been "misinterpreted" it has been removed from the web site.

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... and from which I deduce that the chamades and the 32' pedal reed are "prepared for", ...

 

The chamades and the 32' pedal reed are there, I saw and heard them Christmas before last (2006)... The Chamades are where the console used to be on the upper gallery, you can just see the ends of them if you know where to look. I have a photo of them somewhere. There was no sign of the mobile console at that point though and the lower gallery console, which now faces the case (player's back to the Altar) was still a three manual.

P

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Don't recall were, but I've read on the internet that the four-manual console should also play the choir organ (is there one?); which would make sense having 80+ stopknobs.

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Don't recall were, but I've read on the internet that the four-manual console should also play the choir organ (is there one?); which would make sense having 80+ stopknobs.

 

I seem to recall the choir organ being in the lower gallery.

 

AJJ

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What a shame. If ever an organ should be restored as closely as possible to that state in which it was first constructed, it is that at Ste. Clothilde.

 

Tournemire was greatly disappointed with certain aspects of the rebuild and enlargelment which he designed in the 1930s. I cannot imagine why anyone should wish to make this instrument even larger.

 

I should have liked to have seen a true and faithful restoration of this instrument as near as possible to its conception - if only that we might have a better understanding of performance practice regarding the works of César Franck.

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What a shame. If ever an organ should be restored as closely as possible to that state in which it was first constructed, it is that at Ste. Clothilde.

 

Tournemire was greatly disappointed with certain aspects of the rebuild and enlargelment which he designed in the 1930s. I cannot imagine why anyone should wish to make this instrument even larger.

 

I should have liked to have seen a true and faithful restoration of this instrument as near as possible to its conception - if only that we might have a better understanding of performance practice regarding the works of César Franck.

 

Ah ? Now you join the organ historians leage ?

(You just have to extrapolate this to others organs as well.

St-Clotilde was judged "beautifull, but not suited to the musical needs" several times....)

 

Pierre

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What a shame. If ever an organ should be restored as closely as possible to that state in which it was first constructed, it is that at Ste. Clothilde.

 

Tournemire was greatly disappointed with certain aspects of the rebuild and enlargelment which he designed in the 1930s. I cannot imagine why anyone should wish to make this instrument even larger.

 

I should have liked to have seen a true and faithful restoration of this instrument as near as possible to its conception - if only that we might have a better understanding of performance practice regarding the works of César Franck.

 

I'm not convinced the Ste.Clotilde is the definitive source of inspiration for Franck's organworks; he certainly new other (larger) CC's and that may well have influenced his 'thinking'.

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I'm not convinced the Ste.Clotilde is the definitive source of inspiration for Franck's organworks; he certainly new other (larger) CC's and that may well have influenced his 'thinking'.

 

He certainly knew and played other instruments - notably that at the Trocadéro.

 

However, there is evidence (sometimes from Franck's own statements) that there was a particular osmosis between himself and his instrument at Ste. Clothilde.

 

I for one would like to be able to hear how his Récit actually sounded, particularly with regard to the reed stops.

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He certainly knew and played other instruments - notably that at the Trocadéro.

 

However, there is evidence (sometimes from Franck's own statements) that there was a particular osmosis between himself and his instrument at Ste. Clothilde.

 

I for one would like to be able to hear how his Récit actually sounded, particularly with regard to the reed stops.

 

Me too, but we're different people in different times; our perception of that sound will not (and cannot) be Franck's (or as in Franck's era).

The CC's in north Spain should come very close, like the one in St.Maria-del-Coro - San Sebastian (as recorded on Susan Landale's complete Franck)

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Me too, but we're different people in different times; our perception of that sound will not (and cannot) be Franck's (or as in Franck's era).

 

I would not necessarily agree with this.

 

It is not impossible to consider a return to the original scheme. If the reed stops were examined, it may be possible to determine whether any revoicing had taken place. It is then not beyond the bounds of possibility to conjecture the likely size of the expression box for the Récit - something which was crucial to the perceived sound of the reeds, since the box of Franck's instrument was very small.

 

Clearly, simply comparing stop-lists will not show whether or not ranks have been replaced like for like (or revoiced) - but a careful examination of the pipe-work would give a good idea of any changes. It may prove possible to reverse these. There have been a number of instances in this country where painstaking restorative work by a master organ builder has resulted in the reconstruction of an instrument in order that it may sound close to its original state. The organs of Southwark Cathedral and Reading Town Hall * spring to mind. Whilst the restoration of these instruments may possibly be less complicated than that which would be required at Ste. Clothilde, I doubt that a plauisble reconstruction would have been impossible.

 

In any case, I still have little sympathy with the present scheme, which is arguably over-inflated in this church.

 

 

 

* I acknowledge that certain aspects of the restoration of this latter instrument were (and remain) controversial, notably the re-introduction of the original sharp pitch, the extremely heavy action to the Swell Organ and the removal of a central, balanced crescendo pedal to the Swell Organ (which had been installed as a memorial some years ago). However, it remains fairly certain that this instrument now sounds much as it did when completed by 'Father' Henry Willis.

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Ah ? Now you join the organ historians leage ?

(You just have to extrapolate this to others organs as well.

St-Clotilde was judged "beautifull, but not suited to the musical needs" several times....)

 

Pierre

Not quite, Pierre.

 

But I do wish that this instrument had been preserved a little closer to its original state. Arguably, Franck does have some stature in the world of organ music. I would not agree that every organ should be preserved in its original state. However, surely there are compelling historical reasons for leaving this instrument well alone.

 

I think I know what point you are making here, Pierre - and I realise that it is a difficult, not to say dangerous matter. One cannot simply say "I like this organ, ket us preserve and restore it exactly as it is now." Or, "Well, I do not like that organ - it is dull." However, we could argue all night about the validity of one view or another.

 

I realise, too, that I need to avoid a charge of hypocrisy. I have criticised Tournemire for the lack of respect shown to the original instrument - which he changed because, as you have observed, it was not considered suitable for the musical requirements of the time. However, I am aware that I have suggested that certain Engilsh organs could be subject to some tonal alterations, in order to make them more musical. This is, of course, only my opinion.

 

However, I believe that there is a special case to be made in so far as the organ of Ste. Clothilde is concerned, for two reasons:

 

1) It was an instrument on which Franck spent much time over many years. He spoke very highly of it.

 

2) It was described as 'beautiful' - even by Tournemire.

 

Allow me to compare this instrument with one in this country which I have criticised on a number of occasions - the 'vintage' H&H at Crediton Parish Church. This is an instrument on which I used to practise some years ago. I have also played it after its recent restoration. However, I honestly do not believe that anyone could truthfully describe the Pedal and G.O. reeds as 'beautiful' - or, for that matter, the Tuba on the Choir Organ. It is not easy to find a use for them in any music (and certainly not in choral accompaniment). I suppose they could be used to beat a wayward congregation into submission during a hymn. Yet I realise that there are those who read this board who dislike the sound of French reeds.

 

Nevertheless, I cannot simply agree that every organ should be restored in the state in which it currently exists now, in 2008 - which is, I think, what you are implying.

 

An organ is not just a three-dimensional historic document or record. Each organ has a job to do and surely those who have of custody over these instruments have, of necessity, to balance the claims of historical preservation over practical needs. Dogmatic adherence to one view or the other could simply result in a lot of instruments falling into disuse - which is surely to be avoided and serves no good purpose to either side.

 

This is why I am determined to preserve the sound of my own church instrument. In fact, I consider that the regular contact which I enjoy with it to be a privilege. However, after fourteen years' close association with it, I consider that I can justifiably claim that I know it better than anyone else - and am therefore aware of its flaws and shortcomings. With this in mind, there are a few additional ranks which I wish to include in any future restoration, which I am convinced will enhance the sound and usefulness of the instrument. However, they will be additions - and, as such, players can choose whether or not they wish to use the new stops.

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"it was not considered suitable for the musical requirements of the time. However, I am aware that I have suggested that certain Engilsh organs could be subject to some tonal alterations, in order to make them more musical."

 

(Quote)

 

As I am very weak in english, could you please explain the difference ?

 

"An organ is not just a three-dimensional historic document or record"

(Quote)

An organ is a piece of art like any other, we need to keep them, like

the others instruments, or in ten years we shall have to play Bach on synthetizers.

 

. "Each organ has a job to do"

(Quote)

 

A fridge too. But I hope you'll agree there is a -however small-

difference between an organ and kitchen furniture...

 

Pierre

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What a shame. If ever an organ should be restored as closely as possible to that state in which it was first constructed, it is that at Ste. Clothilde.

 

Tournemire was greatly disappointed with certain aspects of the rebuild and enlargelment which he designed in the 1930s. I cannot imagine why anyone should wish to make this instrument even larger.

 

I should have liked to have seen a true and faithful restoration of this instrument as near as possible to its conception - if only that we might have a better understanding of performance practice regarding the works of César Franck.

 

If it were returned to the scheme Franck knew, how would Langlais be performed authentically on his instrument?

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If it were returned to the scheme Franck knew, how would Langlais be performed authentically on his instrument?

 

Quite so!

And what about La Trinité?: without the changes by Beuchet how Messiaen could have imagine to keep composing for organ?

And Widor at St Sulpice: everyone knows that he thanked ACC many times for his magnificent organ constructed on the basis of Clicquot'work!

 

Cochereau himself was very cool about the organ conception: to his visitors who complained about the deep changes that occured on his NDP organ, he allways said there was a button which would allow them to only use the Vierne tutti and the numerous registrations allowed the concertists to draw aside the new stops!

 

Music changes...organs have to

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
If it were returned to the scheme Franck knew, how would Langlais be performed authentically on his instrument?

 

One the great banes of the original instrument (and is borne out by those scrupulous players who try to adhere to Franck's registrations), is the fact the Récit department was quite small-sounding - (that is why for instance when he requests a solo as in Choral III, so many stops are put down and which sound totally overwhelming and out of proportion on other instruments.) It was also at the rear of the organ. Alongside the G-O in the middle of the case is the Positive - quite the same volume as the the former - if not a little louder, it was said. The Récit did not have its own coupler to Pedal and if you wanted those sounds transferred they had to go either through the Positive or the Grand Orgue - always via the Positive though. The Expression lever had notches for the required dynamics that Franck puts down and one played expressively with only hints of crescendi and diminuendi being controlled when musically necessary as the lever was well away up on the right of the top end of the pedal board. No opportunities for leaving a right foot to linger on a swell box pedal, here!

Therefore at Ste Clotilde there was a strangely unique Cavaillé-Coll organ and the quirks of it have filtered down to us through the registrations. But the spirit of these symphonic registrations on all other organs should shine through performances, I aver. Therefore in my estimation when playing all other instruments with his music, imagination and vision plus that ear in the room, need to be embraced to give the musical performance that can move the hearts and souls that hear.

All the best,

Nigel

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Guest Barry Williams

Many years ago an American organist (who I met at his recital at the Hyde Park Chapel) told me that Franck's instrument had no Swell to Great. To acheive that effect it was necessary to couple through the Choir Organ. I think that the console was preserved in Flor Peeters's house and that it indeed had no Swell to Great.

 

Can anyone confirm this please? I apologise for being rather vague and wish I had noted the details at the time.

 

Barry Williams

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According to the essay by Jesse E. Eschbach in Achbold & Peterson, French Organ Music from the Revolution to Franck and Widor, the couplers on Franck's organ were:

 

Tirasse Grand-Orgue

Tirasse Positif

Récit sur Positif

Positif sur Grand-Orgue

Grand-Orgue Octaves Graves

Positif Octaves Graves

Récit sur Positif Octaves Graves

 

So no Récit to GO coupler - and no Récit to Pedal either.

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If it were returned to the scheme Franck knew, how would Langlais be performed authentically on his instrument?

 

I have no idea. Personally, I prefer the music of Franck to the music of Langlais, in any case.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Many years ago an American organist (who I met at his recital at the Hyde Park Chapel) told me that Franck's instrument had no Swell to Great. To acheive that effect it was necessary to couple through the Choir Organ. I think that the console was preserved in Flor Peeters's house and that it indeed had no Swell to Great.

 

Can anyone confirm this please? I apologise for being rather vague and wish I had noted the details at the time.

 

Barry Williams

 

Indeed so - but in the nicest way I must point out the fact that on this organ there is no Swell Organ and no Choir Organ. This unfortunately is a difficulty of thinking that there is a parallel between the British/American organ and the French Symphonic. A Symphonic Positive does not in any way equate with an almost unheard British Choir organ and the Récit, has its origins as a Solo department - hence the name, not Willis (or another) Swell organ. Many-a time I have heard French organists interpret their repertoire with the English Swell becoming the Récit and the Great becoming the Positive and the Tuba of the Solo (sometimes with octave couplers) standing in for the Grand-Orgue climaxes. I feared once for the roof bosses of St Mary Redcliffe and the priceless windows of King's College, in Cambridge when our noted friends have been invited to play.

It is really funny too how some 'early birds' who have gone to play the St John's organ by Aubertin in Oxford imagine that the Récit (3rd keyboard) should be like a UK Swell organ. They have complained that the expression box doesn't work very well too! They have not used ears to realize that only 4 of the 8 stops are under expression as it is a subtle solo department and not primarily an accompanimental division, which of course it can certainly be if it needs to be.

 

For those interested in the tier of manuals in this organ (and like most by this builder) the Top is the Récit, the middle Positive and the Bottom, the Grand-orgue. This also makes sense of some musical passages as well as the coupling - like a waterfall.

 

All the best,

Nigel

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