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The Cymbale Harmonique At Notre Dame De Paris


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Cavaille-Coll included in the Grand-Orgue of Notre Dame two "progressions harmoniques" - one, a II-V Fourniture Harmonique of a standard type (at least for this sort of mixture), and the other a II-V Cymbale Harmonique that seems quite unique. Its composition grows in the following way - 12:15, 12:15:17, 12:15:17:19 and finally 12:15:17:19:22.

 

I haven't been able to find a reference to any other stop like the Cymbale Harmonique. First, its ranks increase upwards rather than downwards. Second, it adds the 17th rank, and once it's included, it's there for the rest of the compass (very unlike most English tierce mixtures, in which the tierce drops out as the scale ascends).

 

Is anyone aware of another stop like it? Was it totally a CC original?

 

Regards

Malcolm F

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This was an extraordinary tentative to introduce the tierce in french mixtures. But it failed; some years later, the mixtures were modified, and it had occured even faster if the then in charge organist, Mr Sergent, had used any mixture or mutation at all -which he never did-. The french are against tierce mixtures since some centuries, while the german and the english romantic organ rely on these particular compound stops to allow the blend of flue and reed stops. Later, Cavaillé-Coll came back to traditionnal mixtures, and also to the Cornets at the same time -to have tierces in the "Grand-choeur"-.

The Cymbale harmonique you mention is actually a Contre-progression harmonique -a "reverted" harmonic progression. It must have been quite difficult to realise, but quite effective in any "Progression"'s aim: re-inforce the treble to put the melodic line forward (intended for romantic, homophonic and "harmonic" music, in which polyphony is secondary)

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Hi Pierre

 

I understood that the Grand-Orgue Fourniture Harmonique II-V and Cymbale Harmonique II-V were restored in the 1990-1992 work (along with the Plein Jeu Harmonique III-VI of the Positif) - or at least that they were to be restored at that time. A statement from the French Ministry of Culture included a reference to (subject to the correct accents being inserted!), "un retablissement des progressions harmoniques de Cavaille-Coll a leurs emplacements d'origine au Grand-Orgue et au Positif ...", which I would translate roughly as "a return of CC's progressions harmoniques to their original positions on the Grand-Orgue and Positif".

 

Can anyone shed any light on what has happened?

 

Regards

Malcolm F

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Further to my post above, the rebuild work apparently includes a cancel on the Grand-Orgue called "Annulateur Tierce Cymbale". In view of Pierre's comment above, I expect that this would enable the Cymbale Harmonique to be used, in effect, as a II-IV "contre-progression harmonique" quint mixture.

 

Again, can anyone shed any light?

 

Regards

Malcolm F

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The Progression harmonique stops have effectively been

reconstitued, but on the Grand-orgue only, the remaining

mixtures on the other divisions are still neo-classic ones.

I could not find out if the Cymbale was rebuild as the

Contre-progression it was.

The scheme is as follows:

 

Fourniture 2-5 ranks

Cymbale 2-5 ranks, with possibility to cancel the Tierce rank.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, I can also confirm that this is the case, having been up in the loft and heard the instrument a few times. The mixtures have been reconstructed as listed above, together with the interesting idea of being able to annul the 17th rank if desired (as mentioned).

 

Furthermore, as well as removing the Boisseau Fourniture and Cymbale on the Recit-Expressif, there is now a blank drawstop on the Recit jamb, together with an empty space. Since the console was largely new in 1992, this seems odd. Personally, I do miss the Recit mixtures - there is now only a cornet. No longer can you hear the wonderful brilliance as is evident from the many Cochereau recordings. (It is interesting to note that Vierne wished to add chorus mixtres to the Recit at Notre-Dame.) The tutti is now very reed-dominated and thicker than before - not necessarily a good thing! However, it is still a truly wonderful instrument. Do go and hear it, if you get the opportunity. :D

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The brilliant "full Swell" is actually something british; the french Swell, influenced by Willis as it could be -after all Henry Willis and Cavaillé-Coll were friends- is reed-dominated, often without a mixture at all. This is the case in Belgium too.

The english Swell could be an excellent feature on the continent, but in newly built organs!

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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I suppose this means that we should consider the Récit Expressif at St Sulpice something of an anomaly. Cavaillé-Coll included the Fourniture IV and Cymbale V from the pre-rebuild Positif, I think it was. (They remain to this day uniquely part of the jeux de fond.) Placed in an exposed position above the rest of the instrument, for me this division has a thrilling effect. So what was Cavaillé-Coll thinking of? It's certainly unlike any other Récit he built.

 

Regards

Malcolm F

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This was a quite pragmatic way, like ACC often did when he encountered ancient valuable material. He was -of course from a 19th century's point of view- very respectfull towards the work of the ancient builders. Look at the "Positifs de dos" -actually chair organs- he often kept, while a thing like this do not allow to conceive an "academically correct" romantic "Choir" organ.

In the organs he built from scrap, you won't find any Positif de dos, nor a Swell "Plein-jeu", I mean a Mixture intended for a flue chorus in the "classic" sense. He'd place a Cornet instead, or sometimes a Progression harmonique, both intended as "Tutti-binder".

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Even so, the result is so good that it's always been an enigma to me why CC didn't later adopt it as a precedent, at least in his larger instruments. Perhaps he was so taken with his own vision of the Recit - and it's admittedly an excellent one in its own right - that he decided despite St Sulpice that there was no place for a classic mixture in the Recit except where the pipework was already available, and of sufficient quality.

 

Regards

Malcolm F

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The brilliant "full Swell" is actually something british; the french Swell, influenced by Willis as it could be -after all Henry Willis and Cavaillé-Coll were friends- is reed-dominated, often without a mixture at all. This is the case in Belgium too.

The english Swell could be an excellent feature on the continent, but in newly built organs!

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

 

Yes, I know, but I still miss the sound!

 

I would be surprised if C-C was influenced by 'Father' Willis, though. I am aware that they were acquainted, but I have yet to meet a big C-C that sounds like say, Truro or Oxford Town Hall. I know that Willis adapted his Flutes Harmoniques from the C-C examples, but to my ears, the Willis reeds at Truro are worlds apart from any by C-C. (Though closer than H&H Trombi....!) Certainly, those at Truro arguably give us the best idea of Willis reeds as he voiced them, although, even here, the GO 8' Tromba was toned down sometime in the latter half of the twentieth century, it apparently having a tendency to harshness!

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The french and the english tastes differ as widely as possible in the matter of reeds. Up to today. ACC would never have tried to voice his reeds as Willis did, and the reverse is also true. French reeds must have sounded, to british 19th century's ears, like something "awfully crude". So what could have crossed the channel is only the idea of chorus reeds in a Swellbox. This said, I personally find a huge difference between Willis's Trumpets and H &H Trombas; two worlds (and two excellent ones).

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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This said, I personally find a huge difference between Willis's Trumpets and H &H Trombas; two worlds (and two excellent ones).

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

Have you heard some of the new work that Schoenstein are doing in the US - Jack Bethards their director is a dedicated disciple of both Willis and harrison. st Paul K Street Washington is a superb example.

AJ

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Have you heard some of the new work that Schoenstein are doing in the US - Jack Bethards their director is a dedicated disciple of both Willis and harrison. st Paul K Street Washington is a superb example.

AJ

I assume the Harrison you mean is G Donald, and that the Schoenstein firm are looking to his early work, when Willis III had put him in a position in which he hoped he might influence Skinner more towards the Willis style? Is that right?

 

Regards

Malcolm F

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Yes Schoenstein is really quite interesting. Another one I'd like to see in Belgium. But as far as I know, he gathers different infuences upon a Skinner basis and general disposition design.

As to Skinner "people" wanted him to follow the paths of Willis III, but he himself seemed more interested with Harrison (Arthur...) and Lewis.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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As to Skinner "people" wanted him to follow the paths of Willis III, but he himself seemed more interested with Harrison (Arthur...) and Lewis.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

Are you sure about Skinner's interest in Lewis? EMS never (at least that I'm aware of) attempted to produce choruses along TCL lines, and I suspect that Lewis would have completely failed to comprehend his reliance on high pressures.

 

Regards

Malcolm F

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I assume the Harrison you mean is G Donald, and that the Schoenstein firm are looking to his early work, when Willis III had put him in a position in which he hoped he might influence Skinner more towards the Willis style?  Is that right?

 

Regards

Malcolm F

 

The mature work of Arthur Harrison too.

AJ

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Are you sure about Skinner's interest in Lewis?  EMS never (at least that I'm aware of) attempted to produce choruses along TCL lines, and I suspect that Lewis would have completely failed to comprehend his reliance on high pressures.

 

Regards

Malcolm F

 

This is something explained by Mr Jonathan Ambrosino.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Many thanks, Pierre. This is something of which I was totally unaware. (By the way, it's interesting to review this series of posts and see how we've moved from CC at Notre Dame to Skinner's interest in TC Lewis! One never knows where matters will lead ...)

 

Regards

Malcolm F

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