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Visiting Paris


TimEyles
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I'm visiting Paris for a long weekend later in October and would appreciate any advice on how best to get to play, or at least see at close hand, some good organs there. I'm going with a pupil of Ann Elise Smoot's who is hopefully going to have a lesson with Frederic Blanc at Notre Dame d'Auteil. This organ sounds very impressive on the Naxos CD by Henry Fairs (Durufle). I've heard that the general public can gain access to the organ loft at St Sulpice on Sunday mornings for one of the masses. Does anyone know how accessible other major churches are, or how to get in touch with their organists?

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I'm visiting Paris for a long weekend later in October and would appreciate any advice on how best to get to play, or at least see at close hand, some good organs there. I'm going with a pupil of Ann Elise Smoot's who is hopefully going to have a lesson with Frederic Blanc at Notre Dame d'Auteil. This organ sounds very impressive on the Naxos CD by Henry Fairs (Durufle). I've heard that the general public can gain access to the organ loft at St Sulpice on Sunday mornings for one of the masses. Does anyone know how accessible other major churches are, or how to get in touch with their organists?

 

See this recent thread

http://www.mander-organs.com/discussion/in...?showtopic=2522

and enjoy your visit!

 

RAC

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...who is hopefully going to have a lesson with Frederic Blanc at Notre Dame d'Auteil.

 

I had a lesson with Frederic Blanc on this organ a couple of years ago and learnt a lot. I seem to remember he said it was of very few unaltered Cavaille-Cols still around Paris, though I expect to be corrected on this. He made a real difference to my playing in a very short space of time. I really should return for another...

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I had a lesson with Frederic Blanc on this organ a couple of years ago and learnt a lot. I seem to remember he said it was of very few unaltered Cavaille-Cols still around Paris, though I expect to be corrected on this. He made a real difference to my playing in a very short space of time. I really should return for another...

 

You must always take things with a pinch of salt! It was 1885 Cavaillé-Coll; then Beuchet-Bebierre 1937; Barberis 1986 and then Swiderski 2000. The case be unaltered though. Transmission is electric and I heard today that only 2.5 of the 8 General pistons work.

 

Best wishes,

N

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S. Louis d'Antin has a nice little C-C also S. Bernard-de-la-Chappelle. Carolyn Schuster-Fournier (she has a website and one can contact her that way) plays the choir organ at La Trinité - she is very approachable and this is a good organ too - 'not sure who is i/c 'upstairs' there these days though.

 

A

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am going to Paris for 3 days in half term. I will be there on Sunday, 1st November - All Saints' Day.

 

I am not bothered about going up to an organ loft and I don't want (with my wife in tow!) to rush around Paris on Sunday morning trying to hear as many organs as possible. Just one service.

 

So where should I go? I want good organ playing - spectacular if possible. Good singing would be a bonus (but in Paris? Even now?), though I would be very happy with some congregational plainsong.

 

I was thinking of trying Notre Dame but was told by someone who went recently that, though the organ was good, the vocal side was "a girl singing into a microphone".

 

Is there a website where I could find out if there are any recitals?

 

By the way, I have much enjoyed the Notre Dame CD recommended on another topic - love the antiphonal plainsong and grand organ played by Cochereau. But I'd forgotten just how bad the singing used to be - how could they put this on a CD as representing Notre Dame's liturgy?

 

Stephen Barber

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I am going to Paris for 3 days in half term. I will be there on Sunday, 1st November - All Saints' Day.

 

I am not bothered about going up to an organ loft and I don't want (with my wife in tow!) to rush around Paris on Sunday morning trying to hear as many organs as possible. Just one service.

 

So where should I go? I want good organ playing - spectacular if possible. Good singing would be a bonus (but in Paris? Even now?), though I would be very happy with some congregational plainsong.

 

I was thinking of trying Notre Dame but was told by someone who went recently that, though the organ was good, the vocal side was "a girl singing into a microphone".

 

Is there a website where I could find out if there are any recitals?

 

By the way, I have much enjoyed the Notre Dame CD recommended on another topic - love the antiphonal plainsong and grand organ played by Cochereau. But I'd forgotten just how bad the singing used to be - how could they put this on a CD as representing Notre Dame's liturgy?

 

Stephen Barber

 

Vincent Warnier or Thierry Escaich - if they are on at S. Etienne du Mont (Durufle's church) are worth hearing - also Yanka Hekimova at S. Eustache. The ND choir is supposed to be better these days.

 

A

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But I'd forgotten just how bad the singing used to be - how could they put this on a CD as representing Notre Dame's liturgy?

 

Stephen Barber

 

There's little doubt that the singing on these discs is not up to UK cathedral standards but I really enjoy listening to them as they give a feel for ND de P as it was at the time, with the faith of the participants shining through. The recording of Vierne's Messe Solennelle from the same period is, despite the less than perfect singing and slightly early organ entries from PC in a couple of places, easily my favourite of the 4 recordings I have. The sheer enthusiasm for the music is so apparent, the organ is simply stunning and the atmosphere from the cathedral leaps out of the speakers. For me, the best singing in a recording of the piece is the one from Westminster Cathedral but that is a typically English sound; nothing at all wrong with it but the fire so evident in the earlier French performance is missing.

 

Don't forget St Sulpice; a wonderful building in a glorious setting, an organ unmatched just about anywhere and with Daniel Roth likely to be in the tribune.

 

P

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I was thinking of trying Notre Dame but was told by someone who went recently that, though the organ was good, the vocal side was "a girl singing into a microphone".

 

Stephen Barber

 

Every time I have visited there was a choir in residence (occasionally a visiting choir from England); I do not particularly recall more than one or two occasions when there was [also] a cantor (male or female) simply singing into a microphone from a black folder.

 

For stunning organ playing, it is still worth a visit - as, indeed, is S. Sulpice or S. Denis (Pierre Pincemaille).

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So where should I go? I want good organ playing - spectacular if possible. Good singing would be a bonus (but in Paris? Even now?), though I would be very happy with some congregational plainsong.

 

For a totally-biased option, you could come to the American Catheddral on Av. George-V where we will be singing the main morning service at 11h00 including Bainton's And I saw a new heaven during the service accompanied by our CC organ (admittedly much messed about). Details may be found at www.americancathedral.org.

 

For a more authentic CC off the beaten track apart from those mentioned above, you could try Notre-Dame d'Auteuil in the 16e where Frédéric Blanc is in charge or alternatively St-Antoine des Quinze-Vingts in the 12e where I think Eric Lebrun is still at the helm. A total "leftfield" option would be Notre-Dame de la Croix in Ménilmontant, very near Pere-Lachaise (sorry no "e" grave accent on my QWERTY keyboard) Cemetery where there is a wonderful 2-manual CC. What ever you do, bear in mind that Toussaint is a public holiday here and, being in the middle of the school holidays to boot, some organists may have taken the time to go away. The websites of the churches are generally pretty reliable, so I would try and check on what is going on.

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"I was thinking of trying Notre Dame but was told by someone who went recently that, though the organ was good, the vocal side was "a girl singing into a microphone".

 

No, the music at Notre Dame is really very good these days. The choir is first rate - they've got consistently better over the last 5-10 years and now you would struggle to find a better mixed-voice choir even in the UK. Listen to the newer CDs from Editions Hortus. On a Sunday the choir is amplified to be heard throughout the church which is a bit off-putting but of course the organ requires no such treatment... :rolleyes:

 

Bazuin

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Every time I have visited there was a choir in residence (occasionally a visiting choir from England); I do not particularly recall more than one or two occasions when there was [also] a cantor (male or female) simply singing into a microphone from a black folder.

 

For stunning organ playing, it is still worth a visit - as, indeed, is S. Sulpice or S. Denis (Pierre Pincemaille).

 

Yes indeed!

But Pierre Pincemaille is abroad for a concert in Germany on the 1st of november. See his agenda here:http://pierrepincemaille.fr/?page_id=79

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Might I ask a question of the Paris based members please?

 

Many years ago, the summer of 1979 to be precise, a choir with which I sang spent a week in Paris recording Charpentier's Te Deum and Purcell's Te Deum and Yorkshire Feast Song. The orchestra was conducted by J-C Malgoire and soloists included Charles Brett, Ian Partridge and Michael Georges, the discs being recorded in L'Église Notre Dame du Liban. We didn't use an organ at all and I don't recall seeing one as I would have gone for a look, I'm sure. Given that the establishment lists this, "L'Eglise Maronite est une Eglise Orientale Catholique de tradition Syriaque Antiochienne", as it's designation there may not be a need for one.

 

When next I visit Paris I should like to visit the church but can't remember where it is. Would someone please be so kind as to remind me?

 

Thank you.

 

P

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No, the music at Notre Dame is really very good these days. The choir is first rate - they've got consistently better over the last 5-10 years and now you would struggle to find a better mixed-voice choir even in the UK.

Bazuin

 

Really? Even better than the choirs of (for example) The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, York Minster Chapter House Choir or Bournemouth Sinfonietta Chorus?

 

If this is true, it is indeed a wonder.

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There's little doubt that the singing on these discs is not up to UK cathedral standards but I really enjoy listening to them as they give a feel for ND de P as it was at the time, with the faith of the participants shining through. The recording of Vierne's Messe Solennelle from the same period is, despite the less than perfect singing and slightly early organ entries from PC in a couple of places, easily my favourite of the 4 recordings I have. The sheer enthusiasm for the music is so apparent, the organ is simply stunning and the atmosphere from the cathedral leaps out of the speakers.

I couldnt agree more. In fact I would say that the recordings suggest very clearly that the "English Cathedral" sound is not necessarily the best in all cases. There is a feeling of exuberance, vitality and sheer enjoyment in the singing that is usually missing from the tightly controlled cathedral choirs of this country. I find it impossible to think that their less refined singing is any less acceptable to the almighty!

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