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Would Someone Please Explain?


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I think I have mentioned before that I do not play much in the way of French Romantic/Impressionist music, and avoid like the plague most British composers of the same period. When I have played French music, it has awlays been on an English organ.

 

Because of this, there really is a genuinely large gap in my knowledge about French instruments, and whilst I don't feel terribly deprived by this, it would be nice to actually know what posessed Cavaille-Coll to build them the way he did.

 

It's just that when I watched the excellent Daniel Roth on U-tube, I couldn't quite work out why everything seemed to be coupled together, which manual was which and why the console had all those ventil controls which looked like something more familiar to those who operate steam-engines and looms.

 

So now is the chance to get your own back!

 

Yes.....I really am that stupid!

 

MM

 

PS: My excuse is that I have only ever visited France when I worked in Formula One motor-racing, and as you might appreciate, we were a wee bit "otherwise occupied."

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Do you read french, MM?

 

There are *some* pages available....

 

ACC build "french-speaking" organs, with very special, french reeds,

and a great deal of spanish influence (Late-Baroque, the Jordi Bosch

period) . His mother was spanish and his family often worked

in spanish organs.

Besides this, read "Romantic mixtures" on my english forum.

 

Pierre

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About the coupling:

 

St.Sulpice is 'different' with regard to manual layout:

V=solo

IV= recit

III=positif

II=grandorgue

I=grandchoeur (mutations for grandorgue)

 

So, playing a tutti GPR as written by Vierne cs. means coupling IV-I playing on I (rythmic accompaniment by DJ Barker). Note: Notre-Dame had a similar layout, changed by Louis Vierne.

 

I gues the 'ventil controls' you mention are the levers above the pedals - these are for adding/removing mutations+reeds to the manuals/pedals and to work the couplers.

Also: did you notice the swell pedal?

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The origins of the "Pédales d'appel des jeux de combinaison" is the multiple pallet-box, invented in Spain to accomodate organs with two façades.

According to Gerhard Grenzing, Bosch used up to three pallet-boxes on one chest.

 

Cavaillé-Coll placed the softer stop one side of the chest, on pallet box N°1, the louder

ones (reeds, Mixtures, sometimes a Doublette, a Prestant) the other side on the second.

It is on this side you can supply or cut the wind with that Pedal.

The french organists used these Pedals and the couplers to make the crescendos-diminuendos that are typical of french romantic music, while the germans

had the Rollschweller, which gives a completely different kind of Crescendo.

 

Pierre

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About the coupling:

St.Sulpice is 'different' with regard to manual layout:

V=solo

IV= recit

III=positif

II=grandorgue

I=grandchoeur (mutations for grandorgue)

To see all manuals coupled to the first is not unusual in Saint-Sulpice when the organist is dealing with a piece that ends in fff. To the organist, it makes no difference since all couplers run through the Barker machine of the first manual. By allowing wind to the respective chests and pallet boxes via C-C's ingenious system of foot levers, the organist creates the up and down of the sound.

 

All couplers are engaged by foot levers, as are the ventils to the chests and pallet boxes. It is said to be a pedal technique of its own that one has to learn if one wants to play those French beasts, but if mastered, it makes the player capable of incredible control over masses of sound.

 

In Saint-Sulpice, there is another amazing feature. The sliders are moved by pneumatics. If you cut the wind supply from these, you can change the registration to a new one while the previous one is still on. Engaging the wind anew then calls up the new registration. The very lowest row of stop knobs on the terraced stop jambs controls the wind supply of the slider pneumatics, division-wise.

 

All in all, MM, you are not entirely wrong about that steam-engine impression. Only it's actually wind that is regulated by all those features, and not steam. Cavaillé-Coll's organs, in their day, really were high-tech affairs. I think they still are pretty amazing.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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All in all, MM, you are not entirely wrong about that steam-engine impression. Only it's actually wind that is regulated by all those features, and not steam. Cavaillé-Coll's organs, in their day, really were high-tech affairs. I think they still are pretty amazing.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

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

 

Yes....I'm sure you are right Friederich, except that I have actually driven a steam-engine successfully.

 

I am also always impressed by the pneumatic genius of Gavioli and his fair-organs, which are a development of the Jaquard Loom mechanism.

 

Perhaps looms and steam-engines were a good choice.

 

MM

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Besides steam engines etc, here is a link to the site map, english version,

of the official Cavaillé-Coll Website:

 

http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/cavaill.../plan_site.html

 

There is a page from a french builder with detailed information about

scales (in metric!):

 

http://lplet.club.fr/textes/conf.htm

 

Pierre

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In Saint-Sulpice, there is another amazing feature. The sliders are moved by pneumatics. If you cut the wind supply from these, you can change the registration to a new one while the previous one is still on. Engaging the wind anew then calls up the new registration. The very lowest row of stop knobs on the terraced stop jambs controls the wind supply of the slider pneumatics, division-wise.

 

This is exactly the same principle as the Hope-Jones 'stop switch' - although in the case of H-J the fact that it was a registrational aid was secondary to the saving it made in limiting the use of current from the batteries then supplying the action.

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I really believe MM you need to go to France and listen for yourself.

 

 

Funny: the french travel to Holland, the dutch travel to England and the english travel to France.

 

What is it, with the grass on the other side of the fence ??

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I really believe MM you need to go to France and listen for yourself. The moderately good YouTube recordings and even good Cds are no real substitute for listening to the French gems such as St Sulpice in person :mellow:

 

It's very easy to say that you may like a particular sound or genre of sound, just because you like it? There must be something else going on than that? Is it simply down to personal taste? whether a particular tutti sound is exciting for one person or grating for another? Then of course there is the music? Does it matter that you're playing or listening to English, French, or German music? :mellow:

 

All I know is this. When I am standing underneath the Organ of St Sulpice, or the Organ of St Ouen in Rouen, the sound is magnificent. Indeed, it could be an introductory plein jeu from the 18th Century, it could be a Fugue by the master himself, it could be Widor or Vierne, these Organs simply sound magnificent. The tutti with chamades at St Ouen make all your hairs on the back of your head stand on end. It is exciting, in an unforced, natural way. :D

 

The same cannot be said, in my opinion, for the English Organ. Our instruments are built with accompanyment in mind. The genius of English Organ building rests with the Swell Organ, and sometimes the independent choir organ, in a separate 'chaire' case. The beauty of the Choir Organ at Kings Cambridge is a case (no pun intended) in point. We have fine instruments, but again, only up to a point.

 

Go and listen to St Sulpice. No finer introduction than that :D

 

 

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

 

Horses for courses, I suspect. Yes, I think I would find St.Ouen,Rouen absolutely magnificent, and the same would probably go for the Clicquot at Potiers. The problem is that I am not particularly drawn to the music of France, which possibly makes me unusual.

 

Don't misunderstand me, I do actually play some of the music and have performed it in recital, but apart from the the Dupre "P&F in G min" and the splendid "Noel variations" (the latter of which I took the trouble to learn and perform), there is nothing in Dupre's other output which particularly inspires me.

 

Guilmant I can take or leave, but again, I have a regard for the 1st Sonata in organ & orchestra format.

 

Vierne leaves me quite cold, other than the beautiful "Berceuse," and I only like one of the Widor Symphonies.

 

I admire Cesar Franck, but choose not to learn what I know to be great music; much preferring to listen to it played by others.

 

Of the mainstream, that leaves just four French composers, for whom I have a high regard. There is Durufle and the magnificent "Suite Op.5", the splendid "Scherzo" and the "P & F on the name ALAIN", none of which I have ever learned, even though I have the music.

 

Alain fascinates me, but the only thing I ever felt really motivated to learn was the "Litanies", "Le Jardin Suspendu" and the "Clement Jannequin".

 

If I admire one French composer more than most, then it is Tournemire, who must represent the ultimate in imaginative ideas.

 

That leaves Messaien, for whom I have very little time indeed!

 

For some obscure reason, I am very drawn to the German/Netherlands schools of music, and to a lot of contemporary Eastern European music, which I know is not to everyone's taste. I am often overwhelmed by Reger, as well as the music which was inspired by that style. Indeed, I must be one of the few who like the music of Hindemith.

 

Maybe I would be impressed by Rouen: perhaps deeply impressed, but I don't think I would suddenly become a convert to French organ-music.

 

Fortunately, I do not arrive at this from a position of complete ignorance, for I have played four Cavaille-Coll organs, at Blackburn (St Gabriels' church), at the Parr Hall (a long time ago) at the Concertegebouw Haarlem, and the much altered instrument at Manchester Town Hall.

 

To be brutally honest, I think I would much sooner trade all of them in for a good Netherlands baroque organ, a couple of good American Classics or as part exchange value for a great Walcker organ; not that one could seriously put a price on unique instruments of high calibre.

 

MM

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Funny: the french travel to Holland, the dutch travel to England and the english travel to France.

 

What is it, with the grass on the other side of the fence ??

 

And we belgians stand just between all these countries, with but few grass

left, and we like all these organs on a par. St-Sulpice as well as St-Paul,

Haarlem, Alkmaar or Berlin Cathedral, Naumburg (and, and, and...)

 

Pierre

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I really believe MM you need to go to France and listen for yourself. The moderately good YouTube recordings and even good Cds are no real substitute for listening to the French gems such as St Sulpice in person B)

 

It's very easy to say that you may like a particular sound or genre of sound, just because you like it? There must be something else going on than that? Is it simply down to personal taste? whether a particular tutti sound is exciting for one person or grating for another? Then of course there is the music? Does it matter that you're playing or listening to English, French, or German music? :unsure:

 

All I know is this. When I am standing underneath the Organ of St Sulpice, or the Organ of St Ouen in Rouen, the sound is magnificent. Indeed, it could be an introductory plein jeu from the 18th Century, it could be a Fugue by the master himself, it could be Widor or Vierne, these Organs simply sound magnificent. The tutti with chamades at St Ouen make all your hairs on the back of your head stand on end. It is exciting, in an unforced, natural way. :D

 

The same cannot be said, in my opinion, for the English Organ. Our instruments are built with accompanyment in mind. The genius of English Organ building rests with the Swell Organ, and sometimes the independent choir organ, in a separate 'chaire' case. The beauty of the Choir Organ at Kings Cambridge is a case (no pun intended) in point. We have fine instruments, but again, only up to a point.

 

Go and listen to St Sulpice. No finer introduction than that :D

 

I heartily endorse Mark's comments.

 

It is also interesting to note that at S. Sulpice (and a number of other intsruments in France and Belgium) it is possible (by means of the Machine GO) to disconnect the Barker lever from the GO clavier, thus temporarily removing this division from its own clavier.

 

Crescendi and diminuendi in French symphonic music were achieved by successively coupling and uncoupling the claviers, whilst playing on the GO - usually the lowest clavier.

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Funny: the french travel to Holland, the dutch travel to England and the english travel to France.

 

What is it, with the grass on the other side of the fence ??

 

Ummm.... it is greener.

 

There are many wonderful instrumentsd in the UK, but it is probably similar to the reason why many English people travel to France, Holland, Germany, etc, in order to enjoy a holiday.

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

 

Horses for courses, I suspect.  Yes, I think I would find St.Ouen,Rouen absolutely magnificent, and the same would probably go for the Clicquot at Potiers. The problem is that I am not particularly drawn to the music of France, which possibly makes me unusual.

 

Don't misunderstand me, I do actually play some of the music and have performed it in recital, but apart from the the Dupre "P&F in G min" and the splendid "Noel variations" (the latter of which I took the trouble to learn and perform), there is nothing in Dupre's other output which particularly inspires me.

 

Guilmant I can take or leave, but again, I have a regard for the 1st Sonata in organ & orchestra format.

 

Vierne leaves me quite cold, other than the beautiful "Berceuse," and I only like one of the Widor Symphonies.

 

I admire Cesar Franck, but choose not to learn what I know to be great music; much preferring to listen to it played by others.

 

Of the mainstream, that leaves just four French composers, for whom I have a high regard. There is Durufle and the magnificent "Suite Op.5", the splendid "Scherzo" and the "P & F on the name ALAIN", none of which I have ever learned, even though I have the music.

 

Alain fascinates me, but the only thing I ever felt really motivated to learn was the "Litanies",  "Le Jardin Suspendu" and the "Clement Jannequin".

 

If I admire one French composer more than most, then it is Tournemire, who must represent the ultimate in imaginative ideas.

 

That leaves Messaien, for whom I have very little time indeed!

 

For some obscure reason, I am very drawn to the German/Netherlands schools of music, and to a lot of contemporary Eastern European music, which I know is not to everyone's taste. I am often overwhelmed by Reger, as well as the music which was inspired by that style. Indeed, I must be one of the few who like the music of Hindemith.

 

Maybe I would be  impressed by Rouen: perhaps deeply impressed, but I don't think I would suddenly become a convert to French organ-music.

 

Fortunately, I do not arrive at this from a position of complete ignorance, for I have played four Cavaille-Coll organs, at Blackburn (St Gabriels' church), at the Parr Hall (a long time ago) at the Concertegebouw Haarlem, and the much altered instrument at Manchester Town Hall.

 

To be brutally honest, I think I would much sooner trade all of them in for a good Netherlands baroque organ, a couple of good American Classics or as part exchange value for a great Walcker organ; not that one could seriously put a price on unique instruments of high calibre.

 

MM

 

MM, all the points which you make are fair enough - except possibly that made in the penultimate paragraph.

 

What you have not yet done is to play a large (French) Cavaillé-Coll instrument in the church for which it was designed (or, in the case of Sacré-Coeur, the building in which it presently resides).

 

Playing the Parr Hall organ (not its original location), or the MTH organ (not in a particularly good state, these days) or even the Haarlem instrument would, I feel, give a rather different impression than playing S. Sulpice, S. Ouen, S. Etienne (Caen) or the mighty instrument at S. Sernin (Toulouse).

 

Otherwise, I suspect that it is a little like me playing your own church instrument, which you have likened to a small version of Sint Bavo (Haarlem). It may be that I would like it and even be favourably impressed with the effect in the acoustic ambience of your church. However, if I were subsequently to travel again to Holland and visit the church of Sint Bavo, and hear (and play) the Müller/Marcussen, I would, in all probability, be left with the distinct impression that, good as your instrument may be, it simply cannot begin to compare with the mighty organ in Sint Bavo.

 

Notwithstanding, I accept that it is, as you wrote, 'horses for courses.'

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