Thursday, July 8, 2010

Abbey Church of Saint-Ouen Organ, Rouen, France

Rouen, Abbatiale Saint-Ouen

This organ is one of Cavaillé-Coll's most magnificent works and one of the most beautiful from the symphonic period.

The Abbey Church of Saint-Ouen already had an organ in the 16th century that was destroyed by the Huguenots in 1562. In 1630, a new instrument was built by Crespin Carlier upon plans prepared by Titelouze. It was an 8-ft instrument with two 48-note manuals and a 12-note independent pedal.

Ben Van Oosten plays Widor's Toccata from Symphony No. 5 Op. 42 No. 1
Orgue: Cavaillé Coll, St. Ouen, Rouen

Ben Van Oosten plays Widor's Allegro from Symphony No. 6 on the great Cavaillé - Coll of St. Ouen, Rouen

Louis Vierne (1870-1937) 24 Pièces de Faintaisie: Suite II (op. 56, 1926) Toccata Ben van Oosten à l'orgue Cavaillé-Coll de Saint-Ouen, Rouen

Louis Vierne (1870-1937) 24 Pièces de Faintaisie: Suite III Carillon de Westminster
Ben van Oosten à l'orgue Cavaillé-Coll de Saint-Ouen, Rouen (IV, 64)

This organ was revised and enlarged twenty years later by Thomas Morlet; a dorsal positive was added and the main organ case went from an 8-ft 3-turrets into a 16-ft 5-turrets instrument.
After the 1683 hurricane, the organ was repaired by Jean Brocard and Jacques Cherel. Charles Lefebvre worked on it in 1724. Other important works were carried out by Nicolas Collar in 1733. In 1741, the organ was dismantled by Jean-Baptiste Martin Lefebvre. The date of reassembly is unknown.
In July 1803, it is stated that “only the montre is left, eventhough some pipes are missing, all inside stops, mechanical parts, windchests, wind ducts have been dismantled, sacked and removed, there is nothing left in the organ case”.

The organ is rebuilt at that period using parts coming from instruments in St. Godard, St. Vigor and St. Jean. Major works were carried out from 1823 to 1839 by Pierre-François and then by Paul-Louis Dallery.
Called upon to examine the instrument, in 1851, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll ranks it among the largest instruments in France. The organ then had 50 stops over 5 manuals and pedal. From 1851 to 1882, repairs and alterations were made : installation of a new blower, removal of the echo manual, and installation of an enclosed récit.

Carillon-Sortie by Henri Mulet (1878-1967) recorded in St Ouen, Rouen by Andreas Meisner.

In 1888, “a fundamental and complete restoration of the mechanical and instrumental sections of the organ” is awarded to Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. The famous organ builder will execute a complete rebuilding of the instrument keeping old stops only if they were in good condition (approximately 20). Inaugurated on April 17, 1890 by Charles-Marie Widor, this magnificent organ (in the « Michelangelo » style, as would say the organist at St. Sulpice) stands today almost intact in spite of the 1941 restoration (Debierre-Gloton) and the one in 1955 (Beuchet- Debierre).
The organ case is listed as “Historical Landmark” as of February 5, 1970 while the instrumental portion is listed as such as of October 20, 1976.
This instrument is the last masterpiece in a long series of organs built since 1840 in St. Denis Basilica and one of the most beautiful from the symphonic period.

Michel Chapuis. St-Ouen. 'Grand Jeu Classique' Improvisation.

The Récit manual, the largest ever built by the organ builder, is an organ by itself with its twenty stops. On the main manual (Grand-Orgue), there are two stops placed en chamade just under the front pipes.

Prelude #2, op. 99. Recorded in 1973. Pierre Labric, the titulaire at St. Ouen for many years, is organist.


II. Grand-Orgue

I. Positif
Montre 16'
Montre 8'
Bourdon 16'
Bourdon 8'
Violon-basse 16'
Gambe 8'
Montre 8'
Unda maris 8'
Diapason 8'
Dulciane 4'
Bourdon 8'
Flûte douce 4'
Flûte harmonique 8'
Doublette 2'
Salicional 8'
Plein-Jeu V
Prestant 4'
Cor anglais 16'
Trompette en chamade 8'
Trompette 8'
Clairon en chamade 4'
Cromorne 8'

Clairon 4'

III. Récit
(expressif / enclosed)

IV. Bombarde
Quintaton 16'
Grosse Flûte 8'
Corno dolce 16'
Flûte 4'
Diapason 8'
Doublette 2'
Cor de nuit 8'
Fourniture V
Flûte traversière 8'
Cornet 16' (c1) V
Viole de gambe 8'
Bombarde 16'
Voix céleste 8'
Contre-Basson 16'
Voix éolienne 8'
Trompette 8'
Flûte octaviante 4'
Clairon 4'
Viole d'amour 4'

Quinte 2 2/3'

Octavin 2'

Carillon I-III

Cornet (c1) V

Tuba Magna 16'

Trompette harmonique 8'

Clarinette 8'

Basson-Hautbois 8'

Voix humaine 8'

Clairon harmonique 4'


Soubasse 32'
Contre-basse 16'
Soubasse 16'
Basse 8'
Violoncelle 8'
Bourdon 8'
Flûte 4'
Contre-bombarde 32'
Bombarde 16'
Basson 16'
Trompette 8'
Clairon 4'

Other details:

    • Console : en fenêtre
    • Manual compass : 56 notes
    • Pedal compass : 30 notes
    • Combination pedals: 19
    • Expression pedal: Récit
    • Pneumatic key action with the help of Barker machines except for the Positif (mechanical key action)
    • Mechanical stop action except for the reeds on Bombarde which are globally either on or off using a combination pedal (pneumatic system)
    • Couplers :
      BOM/GO 8; REC/GO 16,8 ; POS/GO 8; GO 16
      REC/POS sur REC; BOM/REC, REC 16,4
    • Reeds ON :
      POS, BOM, PED
    • Fixed combination pedals :
      Jeux de combinaison (REC)
      Trémolo (REC)
      Expression (REC)
    • The Orage combination pedal has been removed.

This is a short recording of Mr. Roth at the console playing Cathédrales by Vierne.

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