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Leon Cathedral


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This looks interesting but can anyone shine a light on the possible rationale behind the rather eccentric stoplist. Jean Guillou seems to have been a big influence so one should expect some of his ideas but all the same some elements seem decidedly strange.



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It’ll certainly be colourful !


In that building, it should sound fabulous. In that building, anything should sound fabulous.


What is important is that it should be able convincingly to perform the Iberian Baroque school- amongst others. It does have Epistle and Gospel organs (north and south sides of the Coro)- even if these would not have been able to be played by the same performer, back in the day.


I do, however, lament the absence of 32’s and, to pick up AJJ’s point, there is a baffling lack of 4’ and 2’ tone, where one should expect it. Despite the ‘Guillou effect’, it would take a lot of fiddling to get close to the sounds required for Messiaen’s Joie et clarté (which my spell check annoyingly, if amusingly, rendered as ‘claret’).


The more I look at this, the more perplexed I become. There is only ONE 4’ Principal manual rank in all six manual divisions- and that’s on the ‘main manual’. With this bizarre (I hesitate to say) specification, it would have made sense (or is that something else lacking?) to have been able to split Manual II, in line with ‘Spanish practices’.


¡Gloria a Dios en las alturas!

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All those mutations and an apparently strange choice of stops reminds me of l'Eglise du Chant d'Oiseau in Brussels, and certainly its Positif division. This, too, was designed by Guillou, although he seems to have gone a few steps further at Leon!

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A little more from the Klais website:





From the immediate above, is gleaned the cost (1.7M) and that the console is on wheels.


UK organists venturing here will find it more than awkward to conjure an appropriate combination of sounds for Howells, even with judicious couplings.


A stunning, architectural rendering from on high:







http://www.leonoticias.com/adjuntos/fichero_93231_20130920.jpg (NB that the console comes equipped with spectacle case, in pleasing, yet contrasted colour)


One translation from news items runs (Guillou) ‘took Bach by the arm and catapulted him over the walls’ ! There is a YouTube clip, where there is music reminiscent of Mussorgsky:



And this (http://www.leonoticias.com/frontend/leonoticias/La-Catedral-De-Leon-Vibra-Bajo-Los-Acordes-De-Su-nuevo-Organ-vn127087-vst240) includes a brief Corneta from a news item, played by the Cathedral Organist, Samuel Rubio.


I can’t help feeling sad that the mélange of languages in the stop-list does not include one stop in Spanish.


This is the link to the International Organ Festival, which should prove much more exciting this year: http://www.fiocle.org


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This seems unlikely, given the enormous lack of comment on this extraordinary organ (just listen to it! I wonder which is that huge reed, towards the end of the Mussorgsky), but for those excitedly planning an excursion to northern Spain from the UK, an airline with a lotta orange flies to the closest airport, (Asturias) west of Gijón. Santander is another option, with Madrid more distant still.


Leόn, on the main Camino de Santiago (this route, more properly the Camino Francés), is near some of the most historic (and well-preserved) organs in Spain. They inhabit the wheaty Tierra de Campos- particularly to the north-west of Palencia. (This is Francis Chapelet territoire.) Access for viewing/playing veers from the impossible to the absurdly easy: just roll up and ask. In some cases, there is a notice on the church door, informing you where to obtain the key(s), you knock on that door and are told to get on with it, once basic decencies have been observed. It does help, of course, to be able to convey what you wish in Spanish.


For those unfamiliar with the Kleuker in the wonderfully named Notre Dame des Grâces au Chant d'Oiseau, in Brussels, I provide a link to the spec: http://musiqueauchantdoiseau.edicypages.com/organe-stops


And, for fans of Detlef’s work, there is a (more conventional), 3-manual (as far as I can recall) treat in store in the lovely town of Potes, some 90 miles to the north-east of Leόn and on the eastern boundary of the glorious Picos de Europa national park.


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