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Cavaillé-Coll DVD/CD project

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Recently on this site and elsewhere there have been recommendations for the videos produced by Fugue State Films, including those on Bach's Art of Fugue, "The Elusive English Organ", "Virtuoso! Music for Organ" and "The Historic Organs of the Province of Groningen". There is also a DVD on "English Organ Improvisation" in production.

 

Their latest project is on the organs of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

 

The Project

 

To mark the 200th anniversary of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll’s birth, and the 150th anniversary of his organ at St Sulpice, Paris, in 2012, Fugue State Films plans to produce a DVD / CD boxed set containing the first ever full-length documentary about his life and work.

 

Aristide Cavaillé-Coll was the greatest organ builder of the 19th century and also probably the most famous of all organ builders. Creator of such instruments as those in St Sulpice, Paris, St Ouen, Rouen, he devised a new way of building organs that led directly to the development of the French Romantic school of organ composition. Franck, Widor, Vierne and all their contemporaries and followers were directly inspired by the sounds and possibilities of Cavaillé-Coll’s organs. They composed pieces that pushed the boundaries of composition for the instrument and are now at the very heart of the organ repertoire. This music is indivisible from the organs of Cavaillé-Coll. Each is made for the other.

 

The documentary will be accompanied by a plethora of recordings and filmed performances of magnificent works by Franck, Saint-Saëns, Guilmant, Boëllmann, Widor and Vierne on a superb selection of Cavaillé-Coll’s best organs – expect to see St Sulpice, St Ouen, St Sernin, and more. The performances will be given by the very best players – expect to see famous French titulaires as well as leading English organist Gerard Brooks. As well, a fully illustrated booklet will include photos, details and specifications of all the organs and essays about the composers and music.

 

See

http://www.fuguestatefilms.co.uk/cavaille-coll/default.html

 

For as little as £40 you can place an advance order (including P&P) which will go up to £50 + P&P when they are released. The whole project will cost £80,000, half of which still has to be raised. In addition to supporting them with advance orders, there are opportunities at prices from £100 up to £10,000 to become more involved, from being included in the list of credits on the DVD, through to choosing the music for a track, visiting the locations during filming and taking a share of the profits.

 

They have some of my money already!

 

David Hitchin

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Aristide Cavaillé-Coll was the greatest organ builder of the 19th century and also probably the most famous of all organ builders.

 

 

========================

 

 

Says who?

 

MM

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========================

 

Says who?

 

MM

 

Fugue State Films.

 

Others who disagree might like to suggest some other candidates. Whether the greatest or not, if it is half as good as their previous projects, it should be well worth seeing.

 

David

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Fugue State Films.

 

Others who disagree might like to suggest some other candidates. Whether the greatest or not, if it is half as good as their previous projects, it should be well worth seeing.

 

David

 

=======================

 

 

We've already had "Father" Willis put forward, and I wouldn't dispute the fact that he was the equal of Cavaille-Coll, and probably a far cleverer engineer.

 

Thomas Hill springs to mind, if only on the strength of the organ in Sydney TH.

 

We're very good at overlooking Lewis, but he was a tad later I suppose.

 

We're also very good at turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to 19th century German organ-builders like Schulze, Walcker and Ladegast; all of whom provided outstanding chorus-work, unlike Cavaille-Coll.

 

Horses for courses I expect, but I can't help but think that France is more a Citroen type of country, and Germany a more quality conscious one. The German romantic repertoire is, of course, much larger than the French 19th century one.

 

As for the "great" organ works of 19th century France. I think that is a bit of a dubious claim save for the Belgian born Cesar Franck, but it is enjoyable nonetheless.

 

I think the project is a wonderful idea, and I thoroughly approve of it, but sometimes salesmanship can oversell, and in this instance, it is in danger of re-writing musical history.

 

MM

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The ranking manic, an heritage of the Neo-Baroque period (1: Schnitger. 2): Dom Bédos.

3): Silbermann. The rest: to be either binned or "bettered" according to one of the 3) seems

to begin to be questionned.....

There were indeed several dozens of outstanding builders in Cavaillé-Coll's period. Many are

less well known, built fewer organs, but those left nothing to be desired in comparison.

In France (Merklin, Ghys, Dalstein & Haerpfer, Rinckenbach, to name but a few) in Britain and Germany of course,

The Netherlands, Dennmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg....

Not to forget the U.S. !

 

Pierre

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Says who?

Fugue State Films.

 

Others who disagree might like to suggest some other candidates. Whether the greatest or not, if it is half as good as their previous projects, it should be well worth seeing.

 

David

I think it's worth considering the way that Cavaille-Coll's instruments shaped and changed the way that music was written and performed. Would we have the works of Widor, Vierne, Tournemire, Dupré, Langlais, Messiaen etc. in their current form without the influence of C-C's organs, and those of his successors, on their work? Can the same be said for Willis, or for Harrison, and the composers that their work influenced? I'm not sure I know, but I could probably happily tidy away a few pints while discussing it.

 

Thanks for drawing attention to this project - very worthwhile by the looks of it.

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"Widor, Vierne, Tournemire, Dupré, Langlais, Messiaen...."

(Quote)

 

All french composers ! Of course this is à la mode. But what about Reger, Elgar, etc ?

The fashions have the drawback that they tend to delete all save their Lieblings of

the very moment....

 

Pierre

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Fugue State Films.

 

Others who disagree might like to suggest some other candidates. Whether the greatest or not, if it is half as good as their previous projects, it should be well worth seeing.

 

David

 

I think it's worth considering the way that Cavaille-Coll's instruments shaped and changed the way that music was written and performed. Would we have the works of Widor, Vierne, Tournemire, Dupré, Langlais, Messiaen etc. in their current form without the influence of C-C's organs, and those of his successors, on their work? Can the same be said for Willis, or for Harrison, and the composers that their work influenced? I'm not sure I know, but I could probably happily tidy away a few pints while discussing it.

 

Thanks for drawing attention to this project - very worthwhile by the looks of it.

 

==================

 

 

As with most things, being in the right place at the right time, with something on the table, is the key to success.

 

What we could definitely say, is that with the organs in France PRIOR to Cavaille-Coll, the romantic composers simply woiuldn't have wasted their time.

 

Had French cathedrals been filled with Walcker or Willis organs exclusively, I suspect that the repertoire would have been written in much the same way as it was, but let's not diminish the importance of Cavaille-Coill or his considerable abilities. He was French, the composers were French and together they created something very French and very remarkable.

 

As for Willis and Arthur Harrison who ruined most of his work, that also inspired a great deal of composition...Stamford, Statham, Willan, Bairstow etc etc. (There's quite a lot of it, but one has to have the stomach for an imperial chromatic style).

 

MM

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"Widor, Vierne, Tournemire, Dupré, Langlais, Messiaen...."

(Quote)

 

All french composers ! Of course this is à la mode. But what about Reger, Elgar, etc ?

The fashions have the drawback that they tend to delete all save their Lieblings of

the very moment....

 

Pierre

 

======================

 

 

I've never heard Reger played on a Cavaille-Coll organ......what a relief that has been.

 

On the other hand, I've heard Widor and Saint-Saens played on a Walcker organ, and it sounded fine.

 

On the other hand, I've heard Reger AND Widor played at Haarlem, which must tell us something about "la mode" and French "affectiones"....or is it affectations? (He says with a swish of his handkerchief and a Gallic shrug).

 

I think we could all agree that French bread is the best.

 

MM

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Suffice to ask, MM:

 

 

(This is a Beuchet-Debierre organ. There are not only ACC organs in France).

 

If we absolutely needed to "rank" the merits of the organ-builders like the rating agencies

play to to with countries, let me only say this: I would not rank Cavaillé-Coll as the first

one for the 19th century. But as this presents an interest close to nihil, "don't ask, (I) don't tell "! :lol:

 

Pierre

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Suffice to ask, MM:

 

 

(This is a Beuchet-Debierre organ. There are not only ACC organs in France).

 

If we absolutely needed to "rank" the merits of the organ-builders like the rating agencies

play to to with countries, let me only say this: I would not rank Cavaillé-Coll as the first

one for the 19th century. But as this presents an interest close to nihil, "don't ask, (I) don't tell "! :lol:

 

Pierre

 

Beuchet-Debierre, certainly but one has to keep in mind that he utilised the base of Cliquot restaured and revisited by Merklin.

ACC did the same as Merklin in St Sulpice!!

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==================

Had French cathedrals been filled with Walcker or Willis organs exclusively, I suspect that the repertoire would have been written in much the same way as it was, but let's not diminish the importance of Cavaille-Coill or his considerable abilities.

 

I think you have only to think of the very different means of controlling organs (ventils, for instance) to realise that this could not have been the case.

 

If it hadn't been for Willis, we'd still quite likely have cathedrals full of GG-compass instruments on the crossing...

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I think you have only to think of the very different means of controlling organs (ventils, for instance) to realise that this could not have been the case.

 

If it hadn't been for Willis, we'd still quite likely have cathedrals full of GG-compass instruments on the crossing...

 

Hi

 

And why not! I like GG compass organs!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

(who is off to play on a GG compass instrument now!)

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I think you have only to think of the very different means of controlling organs (ventils, for instance) to realise that this could not have been the case.

 

If it hadn't been for Willis, we'd still quite likely have cathedrals full of GG-compass instruments on the crossing...

 

 

 

=======================

 

 

That explains why so much French romantic music is so full of wind!

 

"Anches" and everyone runs for cover.

 

More seriously, the CC compass was NOT a Willis invention. It was probably sparked off by Mendelssohn via his friend Dr Gauntlett and the organ-builder William Hill, which also gained rapid favour around Manchester; a far more cosmopolitan and forward looking city than London at the time.

 

To quote from that excellent TV series about Victorian Britian, presented by Jeremy Paxman, "If you wanted to see the future, you went to Manchester."

 

There were lots of CC compass organs around before Willis even set up in business.

 

Anyway, apart from Ceasar Franck and maybe early Saint Saens, most of the French repertoire is from later on in the 19th century and well into the 20th century, and by that time, they had invented all sorts of playing aids in England and in Germany, so I don't fully understand the point about ventils controlling the musical agenda.

 

MM

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=======================

 

 

That explains why so much French romantic music is so full of wind!

 

"Anches" and everyone runs for cover.

 

More seriously, the CC compass was NOT a Willis invention. It was probably sparked off by Mendelssohn via his friend Dr Gauntlett and the organ-builder William Hill, which also gained rapid favour around Manchester; a far more cosmopolitan and forward looking city than London at the time.

 

To quote from that excellent TV series about Victorian Britian, presented by Jeremy Paxman, "If you wanted to see the future, you went to Manchester."

 

There were lots of CC compass organs around before Willis even set up in business.

 

Anyway, apart from Ceasar Franck and maybe early Saint Saens, most of the French repertoire is from later on in the 19th century and well into the 20th century, and by that time, they had invented all sorts of playing aids in England and in Germany, so I don't fully understand the point about ventils controlling the musical agenda.

 

MM

 

Ventils don't control the musical agenda. But Franck and Widor and Vierne, amongst many others, wrote their music specifically to exploit the registration aids available, and that makes it unlike quite any other nation's music. In Franck, you almost always have the Oboe out, and when you add something it's quite often reeds and Mixtures together. No Rollschwellers or general pistons here, and had there been then Franck's 3 Chorales could not possibly have been as they now are - it's all about the ventils.

 

The side point about Willis and CC compass (and I love GG too, Tony) was to suggest that others at that time tended to approach things in a more conservationist fashion. Hill or G&D confronted with an old England or Smith or Jordan might well have made a case for preserving some of the material or character of what was there already. (Walker did just that, at Bristol in 1907 when the city was not far off its wealthiest.) Willis led the way in chucking it all out and starting again. How often do you come across a Willis I rebuild? (This isn't meant to be derogatory - if you've got the orders, fulfil 'em - that's the way Ken Tickell does it, and it's only very rarely he branches out into rebuilding.)

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Ventils don't control the musical agenda. But Franck and Widor and Vierne, amongst many others, wrote their music specifically to exploit the registration aids available, and that makes it unlike quite any other nation's music. In Franck, you almost always have the Oboe out, and when you add something it's quite often reeds and Mixtures together. No Rollschwellers or general pistons here, and had there been then Franck's 3 Chorales could not possibly have been as they now are - it's all about the ventils.

 

The side point about Willis and CC compass (and I love GG too, Tony) was to suggest that others at that time tended to approach things in a more conservationist fashion. Hill or G&D confronted with an old England or Smith or Jordan might well have made a case for preserving some of the material or character of what was there already. (Walker did just that, at Bristol in 1907 when the city was not far off its wealthiest.) Willis led the way in chucking it all out and starting again. How often do you come across a Willis I rebuild? (This isn't meant to be derogatory - if you've got the orders, fulfil 'em - that's the way Ken Tickell does it, and it's only very rarely he branches out into rebuilding.)

 

 

=======================

 

 

Oh! I'm sure we absolutely agree. I was merely making the point that almost any of the European romantic instruments would have yielded similar, though not perhaps identical results. Instead of sudden, dramatic changes, the dynamic may have been more gradiated, as with Franck's orchestral music, and that tends to suggest that the ventils could have been a limitation rather than an aid to Franck's natural expressive tendencies.

 

We don't know the answer of course, so it's mere hypothesis at best, but it's sometimes useful to invert the argument.

 

The importance of Cavaille-Coll is that he did what he did and mopped up most of the major contracts, just as Willis and Hill did in the UK. My main objective is to draw attention to the fallacy that Cavaille-Coll somehow invented French romantic organ-music, when he merely influenced it by producing a suitable instrument which happened to be French

 

You are, of course, spot-on about William Hill.....always the obedient tradesman, subject to the whims of his many professional advisers. He belongs to a slightly earlier generation, when ordinary folk were more servile. Willis was radical, self-confident and feared no-one by all accounts. The two gentleman could not have been more different, yet in many ways, they were equals.

 

MM

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=======================

 

 

Oh! I'm sure we absolutely agree. I was merely making the point that almost any of the European romantic instruments would have yielded similar, though not perhaps identical results. Instead of sudden, dramatic changes, the dynamic may have been more gradiated, as with Franck's orchestral music, and that tends to suggest that the ventils could have been a limitation rather than an aid to Franck's natural expressive tendencies.

 

We absolutely agree, except that I still think the differences are much more profound than that. Limitation or not, ventils give rise to a character which makes the nationality of the music indisputable - hence my mentioning it in response to your original point "Had French cathedrals been filled with Walcker or Willis organs exclusively, I suspect that the repertoire would have been written in much the same way as it was".

 

By and large, it strikes me that English music of the relevant era moves in piston-size blocks and hand registering is seldom out of the question; the French follow very particular recipes which seem to always work whether the organ has twenty stops or a hundred; and the Germans and Americans got closest do doing absolutely absolutely all they wanted in the way of full symphonic sweeping gestures, with no need to even liberate a thumb to achieve them. Three styles of music; three styles of organ; all as closely related as they are different from each other.

 

For that matter, a great deal of Reger and Karg-Elert is quite a challenge on a typical English instrument, unless Willis III has equipped it with a general crescendo pedal (and probably infinite frustration swell pedals).

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We absolutely agree, except that I still think the differences are much more profound than that. Limitation or not, ventils give rise to a character which makes the nationality of the music indisputable - hence my mentioning it in response to your original point "Had French cathedrals been filled with Walcker or Willis organs exclusively, I suspect that the repertoire would have been written in much the same way as it was".

 

By and large, it strikes me that English music of the relevant era moves in piston-size blocks and hand registering is seldom out of the question; the French follow very particular recipes which seem to always work whether the organ has twenty stops or a hundred; and the Germans and Americans got closest do doing absolutely absolutely all they wanted in the way of full symphonic sweeping gestures, with no need to even liberate a thumb to achieve them. Three styles of music; three styles of organ; all as closely related as they are different from each other.

 

For that matter, a great deal of Reger and Karg-Elert is quite a challenge on a typical English instrument, unless Willis III has equipped it with a general crescendo pedal (and probably infinite frustration swell pedals).

 

 

==================

 

 

You're probably quite right, and I've nothing to add to your observations.

 

Interestingly, only England had organs by Willis, Walcker, Schulze, Cavaille-Coll, Anneseens and Cavaille-Coll, and only England could transform all that into the organs of Arthur Harrison!

 

MM

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Interestingly, only England had organs by Willis, Walcker, Schulze, Cavaille-Coll, Anneseens and Cavaille-Coll, and only England could transform all that into the organs of Arthur Harrison!

 

Urgh (and I speak as someone who only this morning played O Mensch, solo on Open no 1 accompanied by full strings with super AND duper octave couplers, massive crescendos and tasteless subito pppp's)

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Urgh (and I speak as someone who only this morning played O Mensch, solo on Open no 1 accompanied by full strings with super AND duper octave couplers, massive crescendos and tasteless subito pppp's)

A genuine Arthur Harrison Open Diapason No.1 is a wonderful thing. I think there's nothing wrong with using one as a solo for O Mensch, although there would be plenty of other possibilities too. ;)

Not entirely authentic but then neither is a Grant, Degens and Bradbeer.

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A genuine Arthur Harrison Open Diapason No.1 is a wonderful thing. I think there's nothing wrong with using one as a solo for O Mensch, although there would be plenty of other possibilities too. ;)

Not entirely authentic but then neither is a Grant, Degens and Bradbeer.

 

He he he.....And if you want the real thing, something like Prinzipal 8' + Viola di Gamba 8' + Traversflöte 8'

on a Trost organ.

 

Pierre

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Urgh (and I speak as someone who only this morning played O Mensch, solo on Open no 1 accompanied by full strings with super AND duper octave couplers, massive crescendos and tasteless subito pppp's)

 

 

=====================

 

 

Lovely! ;)

 

 

MM

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=====================

 

 

Lovely! ;)

 

 

MM

 

Indeed, agreed ! I never forgot the (leathered) I in W... played Solo as well .

 

Pierre

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Urgh (and I speak as someone who only this morning played O Mensch, solo on Open no 1 accompanied by full strings with super AND duper octave couplers, massive crescendos and tasteless subito pppp's)

 

Please tell me that you are joking. I have no problem imagining the effect (Saint Peter's, I presume) - I have a huge problem reconciling that sound and effect with this piece....

 

.... Neither would I wish to hear a typical Arthur Harrison Large Open Diapason used solo (or in any other way), to be honest.

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