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Isnard Organ At St. Maximine, Provence


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You might also find the "Orgues en France" web site useful, this has links to a number of interesting French organs including that of St. Maximine. The URL is:-




The link they provide for the St. Maxime organ takes you to a different site than that suggested by Pierre, there is less information overall but this site does include some superb photos:-




It is amazing how many historic organs are so well preserved in France. A favourite of mine is the Moucherel organ in the Cathedral Sainte Cécile, Albi. This is a really spectacular sight on its loft above the stupendous painted screen. I've seen it in in the flesh but only heard it on CD. If anyone has any comments as to how it sounds in the building I'd be very interested.

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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. See for yourself with this recording I suggest:


François Couperin (the two Masses) and Jean-Adam Guislain (the four suites) By Bernard Coudurier, Albi Cathedral organ


BNL 112814 A/B


Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've visited the organ early september 2000, after knowing about it for many years by recordings. In situ the organ is incredible: the 'fonds d'orgue', 'basse de tierce' and the 'grands jeux' (with chamades) - I just couldn't believe my ears, a very rich almost aristocratic sound, very powerfull, nut never intimidating or harsh, the chamades really shining like the sun (well maybe the overall southern france atmosphere and splendid wether influences here also :-)).


If you can: go there, and also try to meet Mr. Bardon who is a very friendly and timid yet proud servant of the organ.

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Be careful, the front in Bordeaux cathedral is a vast assemblage of many pieces of wood, but has never had something to do with dom Bédos !


The reality(a little bit confusing) is that the dom Bédos organ of Ste Croix has been installed in this case at the beginning of the XIXst century, the dom Bédos case and front pipes remaining in Ste Croix.


The dom Bedos organ has finally recently been restored by Pascal Quoirin (fantastic job), and installed back in Ste Croix, in its original case. The facade, being very damage by "disease of the tin" has been installed behind the organ, and replaced by a new one (actually manufactured by Rodgers)


The current cathedral organ is a Danion/Gonzalez from the 80s


PF Baron

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J'ai à la maison un livre appelé "The Organ" et à une page est une image de l'organe de la cathédrale de Bordeaux.


La légende de l'image indique que le dom Bedos a établi l'organe au Bordeaux en 1748.


(TRANSLATION: At home I have a book called "The Organ" and on one page is a picture of the organ of Bordeaux Cathedral. The caption of the picture says that dom Bedos built the organ at Bordeaux in 1748.)



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Dear Dave,


It is a fact that this organ case (Bordeaux Cathedral) has indeed been containing the soundboards and a good part of the original pipes (completely mixed up ! Finding which each pipe had to go back has been a very sportive puzzle) of the dom Bédos organ from Bordeaux / Ste Croix from 1815 I think, to the end of the 1970's.


But the case by dom Bédos (16' front) never moved away from Ste Croix (except for thorough restauration some years before) where it contained a romantic organ by Wenner, which has been dismantled to make room again for the restored soundboards and pipework by dom Bédos, coming back from the cathedral.


The indication in your book is hence not totally correct, ..........but mine is !!!!!!!!


Kind regards


PF Baron

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  • 1 month later...

I heard recently that the reason Isnard built the St Maximin organ with a chamade for the treble of the keyboard was to strengthen the treble of the Grand Jeu during the summer months when the tuning of the Cornet and the reeds were made an unbearable combination.


I wonder if this ingenious foresight was applied to many other instruments of the era.



James Goldrick

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Dear Mr Goldrick,


This is of course not the true reason. When the reeds are out of tune, adding more reeds does not improve anything !!!


Isnard "just" constructed an extremely original instrument, and included not only one but two Chamade trebles : one on the Grand-Orgue, one on the Réseonnance. When you look at photos, the one is on one side, chromatic, and the other one on the other side, symmetrical.


The outermost flats and tower are just there for decoration? The right big tower and adjacent flat hides the Grand-Orgue, in chromatic disposition, and symmetrically, you have the Résonnance, played on the third keyboard, and which alos serves as pedals, using a pulldown.


This also means that the organ is a "double" 16ft : on the left side : Montre 16 from Grand-Orgue, on the right side, Flute 16 from Résonnance on the right side.


Just also imagine, inside the organ, the sight on the Résonannce reeds : Bombarde 16, two 8ft trompettes, and a 4ft clairon, with the clairon in 8ft on the last octave.....;


No, the two chamades have nothing to do with any kind of savings on the tuning....!

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