Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pipedreams, Southern France, Day 11

On the eleventh and final day of our Pipedreams organ tour (Thursday, May 20), we again visited towns surrounding Toulouse. We also had the chance to visit the workshop of an organ builder, Jean Daldoso. Again, links to the organ recordings are thanks to Ian Cook, our companion from the southern hemisphere. For anyone who would like to review and listen to Ian's recordings, they can be found at:

Eglise Saint-Roch & Saint-Blaise

Our first stop was in the town of Seysses, where we visited the Eglise Saint-Roch & Saint-Blaise. The church, which had been quite small, was enlarged in the late 18th century, and has an elaborate baroque interior. The organ was another Puget, built in the mid-19th century, and restored in the early 21st century by Daldosso, whose workshop we visited later that day. The acoustics of the church seem to genuinely enhance the organ’s sound; however, I didn’t get a good photograph of the organ.
Louis Schrady admiring a mural
Eglise Saint-Roch & Saint-Blaise

The next church, Eglise Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, was in the town of Gimont. This church is in the southern Gothic style, graced with beautiful stained glass windows. The organ has had several builders and repairers and was recently restored; its sound was nice, but not as spectacular as some we have heard on the trip. It may have been partly the interior acoustics.

Tower, Eglise Notre-Dame de l’Assomption

Exquisite stained glass window,
Eglise Notre-Dame de l’Assomption

 We then had the privilege of visiting the workshop of organ-builder Jean Daldoso in Gimont. They were in the process of restoring a small house organ.

Workshop of Jean Daldoso, Gimont

The last stop of the day, and the last church/organ for the trip, was in Auch, the Cathedrale Sainte-Marie. It is a huge, impressive church, both externally and internally, in high, flamboyant Gothic style, with renaissance and even baroque d├ęcor. This may have been the largest, most elaborate church we visited during the entire tour. The high alter and choir areas were separated by a rood screen from the main nave. We had to pay to enter that area, with its beautifully carved oak choir stalls, half a millennium old, and haut-relief figures along the walls. The church had a great organ and a choir organ. The great organ was initially built by Jean de Joyeuse in the late 17th century, and modified and repaired several times since then, most recently by Cavaille-Coll in the 19th century. It was restored and reconstructed with electrified stops in 1994, three centuries after its initial installation. The great organ was a fine, powerful instrument, and served as an interesting contrast to the choir organ. The latter was built in 1858, and had a beautiful, clear tone; it was also capable of power and brilliance.
Cathedrale Sainte-Marie at Auch, nave
Interior of Cathedrale Sainte-Marie at Auch,
elaborate haut-relief figures and statuary in
marble and alabaster - a baroque feast

Organ pipes above the rood screen
Cathedrale Sainte-Marie at Auch

Me (Jo Anne) next to the tiny choir organ console.