Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pipedreams Organ Tour, Day 8

JAVS and Janet Tollund enjoying the sky and clouds, Collegiale Saint-Vincent
On May 17th (the eighth day of the tour) we left Carcassonne on the bus, taking a route to Toulouse that meandered through several small towns nestled in the Pyrenees, and that led from the province of Langedoc to Midi-Pyrenees. Again, some links to Ian Cook's wonderful YouTube video recordings are included.
Collegiale Saint-Vincent, southern French gothic exterior

Our first stop was Montreal de L’Aude, where we visited the Collegiale Saint-Vincent. The organ there is the product of three centuries of construction and reconstruction by several famous organ builders. It was a magnificent-looking organ. Jean-Claude did an improvisation that showed the very flexible sound of the instrument that performed well with both classical and contemporary music. Unfortunately, again, some strong smell inside the church (furniture polish?) drove me outside before I could hear the full range of its possibilities. I sat on a ledge near the entrance, watching clouds pass overhead behind the gargoyles.
Organ, Collegiale Saint-Vincent,
The next church was the Collegiale Saint-Michel in the town of Castelnaudary. The organ was originally built in the late 18th century by Cavaille (baroque style) and was rebuilt in the 19th century by his grandson, Cavaille-Coll (romantic style), and restored in the late 20th century. It has very nice tones; slow pieces showed off its sweet sounds in slow pieces, and the good, unobtrusive reverberations of the space. The church was light and white inside, clean, with beautiful stained glass windows, almost clear glass along the walls of the nave and beautifully painted, arched ceilings along the side aisles.
Collegiale Saint-Michel, Castelnaudary
The third church we stopped at was the Cathedrale Saint-Maurice in Mirepoix. The town of Mirepoix was charming, with medieval, half-timbered houses surrounding the church and marketplace. This was the only organ of German origin (brothers Link) that we heard on the tour, I believe. It was built in the late 19th century. It is apparently unreconstructed and does not have electric bellows. It is not as large as some others we’ve seen, but it produces a good sound for the space. One can, however hear the tapping and clacking of pedals and keys if the music is soft.
Organ, Collegiale Saint-Michel
Next, we went to the town of Foix, to listen to the organ in the Eglise Saint-Volusien. The church is a very old one, begun in 1111 by Roger II upon returning from the Crusades. It was damaged during the wars of religion in the 14th century and restored in the 17th century. The church is light inside, but the organ loft is dark. The organ has a pretty sound, different from most of those we’ve heard so far, with clear tones and a deep base (a 32’ soubise?).
Organ, Cathedrale Saint-Maurice
Organ, Eglise Saint-Volusien
Organ, Eglise de la Nativite de la Vierge
The final church of the day was the Eglise de la nativite de la Vierge in the town of Cintegabelle. The organ has a long and checkered history. The case displays a great many pipes, but I made no notes about the sound of the instrument. The church has an ancient lead baptismal font from the 13th century.

Thirteenth century baptismal font

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