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Albi Cathedral - Moucherel Organ


tjtikker
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Nov 10 2004, 06:11 PM

Post #5

 

>The organ at Albi's Cathedral today has very little from Moucherel left. Towards the end of the 19th century, Puget from Toulouse built a new large late-romantic instrument in the old case. Formentelli recently reconstituted a baroque organ, mainly by re-working Puget's pipes.

As to the result, some like it, others do not. <

BNL 112814 A/B

 

I wish to comment on the above, which I found had been posted on this list last year.

 

I visited the Albi organ in the Toulouse organ academy in July of 1982. At that time I not only played the organ for myself and heard several others play it, but I purchased the brochure on the history of the organ and its restoration, which I have before me now.

 

The booklet gives a stop-by-stop inventory of pipes. Out of a total of 3,549 pipes, all of two are specifically listed as being by Puget (One each in the GO 16' & 8' Montres). Then 147 other pipes are listed as being of 19th-century or other uncertain origin. Thus it is clear that Formentelli's reconstruction is by no means a mere re-working of Puget's pipes. The inventory lists a very large number of Moucherel pipes; these, plus those from Lépine, Isnard and Peyroulous number 2,547 in total, clearly the large majority. Granted, these underwent revoicing in the romantic era -- the reeds even lost their original shallots and tongues -- but they are not Puget pipes.

 

The organ was built 1734-36 by Christophe Moucherel, consisting of a Grand Orgue of 18 stops (with 16' Montre), a Positif of 11 stops (with 8' Montre), a 2-stop Récit from middle C, a 7-stop Écho from tenor C (with a plein-jeu, a rarity in 18th-century France), and 5-stop Pédale (with one-note ravalement, low C# playing AA). In 1747 François L'Épine and his eldest son Jean-François repaired the organ, also adding a Trompette and Clairon to the Positif, a 2nd Trompette to the Grand Orgue (replacing the 4' Flute), and a Bombarde to the Pédale. Joseph Isnard added a 7-stop Bombarde division to this organ in 1778-79; amazingly, it had not one but two 16' Bombardes! In the early 19th century one of the two Pédale 8' Flûtes was replaced with a 16' Bourdon, and the Écho lost its mixture. In 1824 Antoine Peyroulous of Toulouse moved one of these Bombardes to the Grand Orgue (where it replaced the Clairon, which in turn replaced the 2' Quarte de Nazard) , its place on its namesake clavier being taken by a new 8' Trompette. A Clarinette en chamade was added to the Positif over & above the contract, complimenting the one already on Isnard's Bombarde division.

 

Changes towards romantic esthetic began in 1804-41, with work by the Frères Claude of Mirecourt. Various mixtures and mutations were replaced with flutes and strings. The work was very poorly received. Subsequent repairs were carried out by Ventouillac & Dubois in 1847, and Junk in 1856. Thibault Maucourt of Albi built a new 10-stop Récit in romantic style (compass from tenor C) in 1865, and modernized the couplers (no longer shove-couplers).

 

Théodore Puget of Toulouse made various further changes between 1865 and 1903, in which latter year he proposed a major renovation. This produced a 4-manual organ (three manuals under expression) of 74 registers (8 of those in the Pédale being by extension) with tubular-pneumatic action. Received in November 1904, the organ was considered to be Puget's masterpiece.

 

By the 1950s the organ's condition was seriously deteriorated. In 1971 Schwenkedel of Strasbourg dismantled the organ. The first proposal was for a new organ using the best of the old material doe an essentially new organ in a modern, neo-barique-influenced esthetic. But the plans changed as it was realized how much of the original organ had survived. The contract for restoration by Bartoloméo Formenteli of Pedemonte, Italy was signed 13 May 1977.

 

The plans called for reconstruction of Moucherel's original organ, incorporating the changes and additions by the other builders up through 1825. The original GO and POS chests were restored, the others built new in period style. A new console in period style was constructed, with original key compasses (though the Pédale was extended up to f', but with a French-style pedlboard) and new mechanical action.

 

 

As to my opinion of the restoration: I found the sound of the reeds thoroughly amazing, truly a glorious sound! The fluework however struck me as overall having rather a raw and sizzling sound, quite in contrast to other classical French organs I have heard. It was so pronounced that it was plainly audible as such even heard far down the nave, which was surprising.

 

There were also a few revisionist items in the restoration which puzzled me. One especially was the placement of the (new, copied from Moucherel) Voix humaine on the Bombarde manual, where it never had been in the organ's entire history, nor would be on any other classical French organ. Furthermore, this meant that it was not located on the same manual as the foundation stops which were always drawn with it in classical practice (8' Bourdon & 4' Flûte). I suspect here the influence of Xavier Darasse, a consultant for the restoration project, who avoided using solo reeds with flue reinforcement. When I asked his assistance in registering a Dialogue de Voix humaine on this organ, he had me draw the lone voix humaine of the Bombarde and accompany it on the Grand Orgue 8' Montre alone -- no coupler, of course.

 

- Timothy Tikker

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

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Thankyou for taking the time to give us such an informative post.

 

I too have a booklet describing the Albi organ and its history, but I'm ashamed to say that my french is not up to the task of deciphering all of its contents! I bought a CD of one of the local organists playing Dacquin etc. when we visited Albi and the recorded sound is just amazing (although the standard of playing is not up to the standard we've come to expect).

 

Albi is a little off the beaten track, but well worth a visit. The cathedral itself looks austere and unpromising from the outside but is a real revelation once you move inside. The sight of the organ on its gallery astride two vast painted pillars is just stunning.

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Thankyou for taking the time to give us such an informative post.

 

I too have a booklet describing the Albi organ and its history, but I'm ashamed to say that my french is not up to the task of deciphering all of its contents! I bought a CD of one of the local organists playing Dacquin etc. when we visited Albi and the recorded sound is just amazing (although the standard of playing is not up to the standard we've come to expect).

 

Albi is a little off the beaten track, but well worth a visit. The cathedral itself looks austere and unpromising from the outside but is a real revelation once you move inside. The sight of the organ on its gallery astride two vast painted pillars is just stunning.

 

I have a CD of the complete Daquin Noêls; perhaps it's the same one:

 

Mary Prat-Molinier, Auvidis/Tempo B 3015 (1989).

 

I find it interesting that the repertoire chosen has no need of the principal choruses, and relies heavily on reeds... certainly showing off the organ's strengths!

 

Yes, the cathedral is stunning to see inside, as it's one of the only large gothic churches which still has its original polychromed interior. There's a large last judgment scene painted on the wall under the organ gallery. One of my academy classmates who was an artist told me that this painting has been attributed to Heironymus Bosch. Whoever did the painting, the effect of such a vast pace being covered in color is overwhelming, especially when one stops to think that all the great cathedrals were once this way.

 

Here's a little photo for a glimpse of the organ gallery:

 

http://www.mairie-albi.fr/eng/arthistory/p...cile/orgue.html

 

- Timothy Tikker

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Yes, indeed!  I have a standing invitation to visit that organ, which I hope to do someday!  And Souvigny, and...!

 

- Timothy Tikker

 

.....Sainte Croix, Bordeaux.(Built by dom Bedos himself, fairly preserved,

and restored by Pascal Quoirin). But St-Maximin is in fully original state.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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.....Sainte Croix, Bordeaux.(Built by dom Bedos himself, fairly preserved,

and restored by Pascal Quoirin). But St-Maximin is in fully original state.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

 

Yes, I just bought one of the last copies of the book about the organ & its restoration: Le Testament de Dom Bedos, published by Le Renaissance de l'Orgue à Bordeaux/ William Blake & Co. Plus I have one of Chapelet's CDs of it. I may try to see it two years from now...

 

- Timothy Tikker

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 years later...

The Albi website offers several CDs, a booklet about the organ, and what appears to be a very interesting DVD. Unfortunately at the top of their web page is frame containing a message in very solid blue print, saying that purchase by correspondence is ONLY possible in France. That is extremely frustrating, as they don't seem to be available anywhere else.

 

Is there any way of getting hold of them that doesn't require a visit to Albi?

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I found something else:

 

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/ass.christophe...private/dvd.htm

 

Namely:"Par correspondance, merci de nous laisser un mail pour connaître la marche à suivre"

 

"(If you want to buy by) the Post, please send us a Mail in order to know how to proceed"

 

E-Mail:

 

ass.c.moucherel@wanadoo.fr

 

(Copied from the page, so this E-Mail is a public one)

 

Pierre

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Guest spottedmetal
One especially was the placement of the (new, copied from Moucherel) Voix humaine on the Bombarde manual, where it never had been in the organ's entire history, nor would be on any other classical French organ. Furthermore, this meant that it was not located on the same manual as the foundation stops which were always drawn with it in classical practice (8' Bourdon & 4' Flûte).

Hi!

 

If anyone wants to visit the Albi organ, it sounds as though August could be an exciting opportunity as the International Harp Ensemble has been invited there and hearing them would be a bonus to being able to visit the organ - I'll update this post with dates in due course or send me a PM. Last evening I heard them play at Cranleigh in Surrey and 30 harps on stage is quite a sight and a sound! Players are from 6 to grey-haired. Very much an inspirational group for the young generation.

 

Does anyone know who to contact specifically to see/play the organ? My youngest son would be very disappointed not to be able to do so when he's there with his harp.

 

Is there repertoire for Harp and Organ? This is not the first church in which the ensemble will have performed and perhaps such a combination would be usefully encouraged?

 

On the subject of Voix Humaine stops I had a surprise in Venice to draw the Voce Umana to find that it was a beating flute -(I think flat) - has anyone seen such an oddity before? Might it therefore have been intended to be drawn with the Trombe or Trombocini? (Sorry the visit was very very quick and I can't remember now whether it was a two rank stop or merely a single flat tuned rank - and cannot recall which of the reed stops was the quieter). This was at San Giorgio Maggiore - an instrument in perfect condition, a wonderful Pyramid di Ripenio going up to 22, 27, 29, 33 and 36 in an acoustic which was in excess of 7 seconds. (A concert there would be exhiliarating!) Sorry to slide off topic from France to Italy, but this mention of the Vox Humana being intended as a combination of reed and flute solves a lot of questions and the Venetian example with the flute specifically identified seems an interesting practice.

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

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On the subject of Voix Humaine stops I had a surprise in Venice to draw the Voce Umana to find that it was a beating flute -(I think flat) - has anyone seen such an oddity before?

Yes, somewhere in the dim, distant past, I've read about Voce Umanas sometimes being a pair of beating flutes and not a reed as we think of it, but a quick search through the most likely sources hasn't helped. :P

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I found something else:

 

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/ass.christophe...private/dvd.htm

 

Namely:"Par correspondance, merci de nous laisser un mail pour connaître la marche à suivre"

 

"(If you want to buy by) the Post, please send us a Mail in order to know how to proceed"

 

E-Mail:

 

ass.c.moucherel@wanadoo.fr

 

(Copied from the page, so this E-Mail is a public one)

 

Pierre

Following Pierre's suggestion I wrote, and have arranged to buy the DVD for 32 euros and the booklet for 7, with the total cost of postage to the UK of 6 euros.

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Guest spottedmetal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDVsvPZv-vo

In the beginning you hear the 8' Principale alone,

then with the Voce umana, a second, off-tune rank.

This is the ancestor of the celestes.

Dear Pierre

 

You are a star! Yes - this is the sort of Vox Umana that shocked me in Venice - does anyone fancy organising a concert on that San Giorgio organ if possible? It's a most enthralling historic organ . . .

 

Does anyone know of any YouTube or other examples of the upper reaches of the Pyramid de Ripieno to share with others the excitement of that upperwork?

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

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