Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pipedreams, Southern France, Day 9

Package ready to mail, Pont Neuf across the Garonne River, Toulose
The next three days and nights we spent in the vicinity of Toulouse, the major city of Midi-Pyrenees. In the city of Toulouse itself, we were scheduled to visit seven churches. The third one on the schedule was cancelled, and I decided to opt out of the last three because I was tired. Instead, I chose to wander around the city a bit by myself, to buy a couple of souvenirs, and to mail a package of books and souvenirs back to the U.S. Again, YouTube video-recordings by Ian Cook are linked.

Eglise Notre-Dame la Dalbade, exterior with tympanum
The first church we visited in Toulouse (Tuesday, May 18) was the Eglise Notre-Dame la Dalbade. The church was built in the late 15th century, but sustained some damage in 1926 when the bell tower collapsed. The tympanum over the door is a Renaissnace ceramic rendition of the crowning of the Virgin by Fra Angelico. The organ, reconstructed by Puget in the late 19th century, was given its initiation in concert by the well-known composer, Charles-Marie Widor, in 1888. It has just recently been carefully restored. The organ has a wide dramatic range, almost heroic tones in the base. The organist (M. Demiguel) also demonstrated its versatility with some “modern” music of traffic sounds, battle sounds, and screams of despair. It has a huge base sound that reverberates through the floor and into the feet and legs. One of the group members played the famous Widor piece, which plays well on this organ.
Organ loft, Eglise Notre-Dame la Dalbade

The next church was a protestant church, the Temple du Salin, an unimposing structure on the corner of a city block. It was very light inside, and easy to photograph. The organ was designed by our organist, Jean-Claude Guidarini, and built by Jean Daldosso early this century. It has clear, bell-like tones in the higher registers and sturdy tones in the lower. The organ and its casings were quite beautifully and simply presented.
Temple du Salin: simple exterior

Beautiful organ, Temple du Salin
The Basilique Notre-Dame la Daurade was a fairly new church (19th century) in a neoclassical style, built on the site of a former Roman temple of Apollo which had been replaced by a temple to the virgin, which collapsed in the 18th century. I couldn’t get a good photo of the great organ, but had more luck with the choir organ. Jean Claude and Michael played a duet (Vierne mass?) on the great and choir organs respectively. The choir organ seemed to have a sweeter sound.
Choir organ, Basilique Notre-Dame la Daurade
Notre-Dame la Daurade: neoclassical fa├žade

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