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Original Cavaille-Colls


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Is there anywhere a list or run-down of Cavaille-Coll organs that are still in basically their original conditions? There are three that are billed as such: St. Sulpice, St.Ouen, and St.Sernin. Just wondered what (if any) others exist.

Long ago, modernization started taking its toll. The Notre Dame one was replaced long ago, and it seems to have recently gotten another new console. Ste. Clotilde is now a four manual, and I assume probably electrical. So what does C.- C. have left?

Corno Dolce

Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler
Then there is St. Etienne in Caen, Ste. Croix in Orleans, and some beauties in Spain too...


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Then there is St. Etienne in Caen, Ste. Croix in Orleans, and some beauties in Spain too...

I have have the pleasure of playing at S. Etienne, Caen, on a number of occasions. It is indeed a fine example of the work of Cavaillé-Coll, still largely in its original state. The one stop change (an odd Plein-Jeu chorus mixture, suggested by Marcel Dupré) was reversed at the last restoration.

The tutti is stunning - particularly with the Octaves Graves G.O.

There is also the instrument in the west gallery of Bayeux Cathedral (Normandy). This is also in original condition (although it has been restored superbly well, so that, for example, the console looks freshly polished, as opposed to its actual age). And, of course, not forgetting Cavaillé-Coll's first large instrument in Paris, that at the Abbey of S. Denis. Again, this has been carefully restored; although the tuning (which was converted to some form of unequal temperament at the restoration) has been re-tuned to 'equal' temperament - thank goodness.

There are also a number of smaller instruments in and around Paris (for a start), which are all still largely in their original conditions. The Cavaillé-Coll DVD box set (by Fugue State Films) gives an excellent selection of some of these.

With regard to S. Suplice - this instrument has been subject to a few alterations over the last century. Two stops were added to the Pédale Orgue - and one or two organ builders claimed to have carried out certain tonal work more recently. However, I have not yet seen a corroborative source for these statements. (In the 1920s, Hele & Co., of Plymouth, Devon, also claimed in an advertisement in The Organ
, to have 'revoiced all the reeds' on the FHW instrument of Truro Cathedral. This was, of course, nonsense. For a start, it is extremely unlikely that reeds by 'Father' Willis would need revoicing less than forty years after they were put in - and even less likely that anyone should wish to - particularly that anyone should regard Hele's voicing as superior to that of Willis. In fact, I believe that a few pieces of felt were removed from some resonators at the time of the 1963 restoration - which was undertaken by the House of Willis.

The situation at Ste. Clothilde is a sad one. Personally, I think that Tournemire should have been shot for what he did to this instrument. In fairness, I have seen a report which stated that he was devastated on the completion of the work - particularly since the swell box (which was formerly so sensitive and expressive) was now rather un-responsive. However, this type of thing appears to have long been the case in France, where valuable and historic instruments could be altered with impunity.
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