NEW ! our CD 9 : Improvisations, by Marc PINARDEL (october 2002)
Dear Friends of the MOUZON Organ, dear Listeners, dear Correspondents from the Press !
WATCH IT ! The Season 2002 is arriving at full speed :
We have prepared specially for you an outstanding series of concerts around the historical Moucherel-Formentelli organ during this year 2002 rich in european, national and "mouzonnais" events : the Euro, the elections and the release of two new CDs : "Improvisations" by Marc Pinardel in quite varied styles, and "Around Spain" by Pascale Rouet with, among others, 4 contemporaneous pieces.
Two "Hors d'oeuvres" in May and June : recorder and harpsichord played by the two daughters of our long-standing friend, Maurice Pinsson : we are pleased to welcome Lucile (the younger) and Catherine (the elder) who made their way in the musical world and are back literally covered with diplomas, thus guaranteeing brilliant carrying-on activities from the Ardennes.
Organ and singing, with our friend Jacques Pichard, organist at St Louis de la Salpêtrière (Paris) in his second visit to Mouzon, with the soprano Séverine Grimbert, whose teachers were, among others, Anna-María Miranda, Michel Laplénie and Gérard Lesne.
Four "Main Courses" in July and August : organ recitals by organists from various European parts : Pascale Van Coppenolle, organist of the instrument "à la française" at Vianden (Luxemburg), William Whitehead, our friend from London who gave us a real treat last year, Riccardo Poleggi - a long-standing friend from Rome - very pleased with this first visit to Mouzon, and Denis Tchorek (Nancy - F) who last year experienced love at first sight for our instrument.
Finally the "dessert" at the beginning of September with a quite "tasty" ensemble including a trio of natural trumpets - copied from ancient instruments - blown by Jean-François Madeuf, Joël Lahens and Gilles Rapin, a bass solo by a sturdy Norman, Alain Buet, a duo of timpani struck by Didier Plisson, and a saxon baroque organ imported for such event, built in 2000 by our friend Rudi Jacques (Hastière, Belgium ; http://www.orguesjacques.org) played with hands (and feet too) by another long-standing friend, Jean-Christophe Leclère, resident organist at the "Basilique de L'Epine" (Marne) who will also treat the audience with a dazzling performance from the Moucherel console.
Indeed many musicians are waiting for their turn to play at Mouzon. Their list is quite lengthy and all of them are highly talented but alas the number of concerts is limited... Be patient !
However it is with an undisguised delight, a restrained emotion and a genuine simplicity that we invite you to attend our
EUROPEAN SEASON 2002
Jean-Philippe Gélu, President of "Présence"
4th february 2002 :
Mr BLAKELY, of the "American Record Guide", wrote about our CD 7/8 " The Art of Fugue ", J.S. Bach : AT THE END OF THIS PAGE !
MOUZON - an ancient Celtic port on the river Meuse - attracted Roman cohorts, thus becoming an important stage on the RHEIMS to TRIER road. Later on the town was hotly disputed because of its position on the border. Then Adalberon, the archbishop of Rheims, set up there a Benedictine abbey which quickly grew in importance and even hosted several synods. Today's abbey-church, built between the 13th and the 15th centuries on the same plan as the LAON cathedral, has kept the purest early Gothic chancel and nave. In the early 17th century the monastic community, by then somewhat decadent, was brought into line by the Saint-Vannes Benedictines from VERDUN. They brought new blood into the abbey, as the monastic buildings and monumental altar show evidence, together with the grand organ built between 1723 and 1725 by Christophe MOUCHEREL :
" Un grand huit pieds, avec bourdon de seize pieds, pedal seperé, quatre claviers, positif, écho, cornet de réci…"
The organ chest was restored and the instrument rebuilt by Barthélémy FORMENTELLI from 1988 to 1991. Today this magnificent instrument has recovered its soul of yesterday and perfectly serves the music of its time, which has inspired the intense activity of the association "Présence de l'Abbatiale" since 1981.
Christophe MOUCHEREL (1723-1725)
Barthélémy FORMENTELLI (1988-1991)
The organ is the outstanding feature of the church's interior. It was built between 1723 and 1725 by Christophe Moucherel. Born at Toul in 1686 and by trade turner, cabinet-maker and type-founder. He built his first organ in 1716. By the time he was commissioned for the monumental organ for Albi Cathedral in 1734, he had already completed twelve organs and worked on another twenty-five. Having finished at Albi in 1737, he went on to build the organs at Castres and Narbonne, and that at the Abbey of Boulbonne. After 1761 we find no further trace of him.
In 1985 it was decided to proceed with a complete restoration of the organ, reconstructing the parts missing on the basis of the 1766 treatise by Dom Bédos de Celles. Indeed there was not much left of Moucherel's original instrument : the case, the pedal wind chests, and the pedal 6' and 12'.
Remarkably, the wind is fed by four wedgebellows without any fan-blowers but with an electric motor which works the bellows in much the same way as the organ-blowers of former times. The wind supply and sensitive voicings give the organist ample room to control the articulation of the pipes. The "breathing" of the bellows can be heard in the occasional silences on the recordings, like a soft regular pulse-beat.
It was almost a foregone conclusion that the restoration work would be entrusted to Barthélémy Formentelli. He had made a magnificent job of restoring the organ at Albi between 1971 and 1981, and had thus been in direct contact with the major extant instrument by Moucherel. A project on this scale, however, could only have been brought to completion thanks to the continued enthusiasm and long-term dedication of the society "Présence de l'Abbatiale".
"PRESENCE DE L'ABBATIALE"
The "Society for the Revival of the Abbey-church" in Mouzon was created in 1981 with a view to renovating the organ installed by Christophe Moucherel in 1725. The society has organized more than 120 concerts on the organ and made 8 recordings (Please visit our "Boutique" page !). Furthermore, it has set up an exhibition on the renovation work in the north gallery of the Abbey-church, and produced a video-cassette showing all the stages of the construction and installation of the instrument following the principles of Dom Bédos' treatise on "The Art of the Organ-builder" (1766). Further projects are plentiful : summer schools, other concerts and recordings…
ROUET started her musical training at the conservatory of Charleville-Mézières
with Maurice PINSSON, continuing at the conservatory of Rheims with Arsène
MUZERELLE and then at the Paris conservatory where she graduated with high distinction
in the organ, improvisation (Rolande FALCINELLI), harmony, counterpoint, fugue
and orchestration classes. Thereafter she studied improvisation with Jean-Pierre
LEGUAY, harpsichord with Yannick LE GAILLARD, and organ with André ISOIR
and Bernard FOCCROULE. In 1986 she obtained first prize at the International
Organ Competition for Contemporary Music in Toulouse. She was appointed in 1988
teacher at the Charleville-Mézières conservatory and in 1991 organist
at the Abbey-church of Mouzon.
Please visit our "Boutique" page !
JAN VAN MOL
The organist Jan Van Mol
has already recorded the organ works of G.A. Homilius and J.C. Oley for Pavane
Records which discs were greeted enthusiastically by both the critics and the
public. He teaches at the Flemish Royal Conservatoire in Antwerp and is organist
of the church of Saint Paul in Antwerp. He gives concerts pratically all over
East and Western Europe.
Please visit our "Boutique" page !
Messe Solennelle de saint Remi (1958)
Le Baptême de Clovis (1996)
Conductor : ARSENE MUZERELLE (Rheims)
This CD is based upon the
live recording of a concert in the Abbey-church of Mouzon (Ardennes, France)
on Saturday September 28th, 1996. The programme was devoted to works
by Georges MOINEAU, a french composer living in Rheims. His oratorio "Le Baptême
de Clovis" was performed here as a "world premiere", in the circumstance of
the Baptism of Clovis 15th centenary celebrations.
Please visit our "Boutique" page !
Jean-Christophe LECLERE, organ
Jean-Christophe Leclère has completed an independant education with major international personalities such as Olivier Latry for the organ and Christophe Rousset for the harpsichord.
As soloist or as accompanist he has collaborated in concerts and recordings with ensembles such as Akademia (regional vocal ensemble of Champagne-Ardenne), the Concert Brisé, the Ensemble Baroque Pascal Collasse, The Académie Sainte-Cécile, and soloists such as Catherine Greuillet, Jean Nirouët, Philippe Couvert, Aris Christofelis and Richard Walz.
Organist during twelve years at the historic organ of St Maurice's in Rheims, he has exercised the same function since 1983 at the basilicus of L'Epine in Champagne. A doctor in medecine, he is the author of a study and an original thesis upon the health of professional musicians.
Hadrien Hourdan and Jean-Christophe Leclère, prizewinners of the 1994 Bruges international organ competition, have also recorded :
OUR CD 1 : "JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH"
The works chosen for this recording stand somewhat apart in J.S.Bach's production. Most of them are isolated pieces, in which foreign influences, particularly French and Italian, can be detected more clearly than elsewhere. Playing this music on a typically French instrument, which is, moreover, an exact contemporary of Bach, has struck us as a particularly apt choice.
The 8 "Short Preludes and Fugues" were wrongly ascribed to J.S.Bach for a considerable time. However, a detailed analysis tends to disprove such an opinion: nowhere else in Bach's works are differences between Subject and Answer to be found. The style of the Fugues and Subjects is fairly akin to that of South German composers. Writing is rather poor and betrays some awkwardness. In addition, the "galant" late-baroque style of certain Preludes seems to date their composition around 1730/1750. It is hard to believe that these short pieces, even written with a didactic purpose in mind, are the work of J.S.Bach, by then at the peak of his genius. They may well be the work of a Southern or even Central German composer who may have been one of Bach's students, and must have had a wide culture, if not a great talent, as the high degree of stylistic variety in them goes to show. Nevertheless, these pieces are not without interest: their diversity is evidence of the various musical currents of the time. They are unaffected but lively and poetic miniatures, pleasant to hear and fairly easy to play. Today, they still remain grassroots learning for a great many beginners in organ playing.
Traditionnally, the canzona is a cheerful piece in two sections (the first a two-beat allabreve, the second is ternary), whose theme often starts out with repeated notes (cf: Frescobaldi, Buxtehude...). Bach's Canzona retains some elements belonging to this style (a ternary second part, a vocal texture, a subject matter close to some Italian canzonas, although repeated initial notes are missing), but also juxtaposes elements that belong to the ricercar (a first part in 4/4, a chromatic counter-subject, a continuous texture to avoid cadences), which make the true nature of this piece difficult to grasp. Although it is to be found in several copies, the use of the pedal seems dubious, and the version presented here is entirely for manuals.
The G major Fantasy seems to show its origins clearly: the title (Pièce d'Orgue), the tempo (très vitement, gravement, lentement), the choice of G major (the same as for F. Couperin's "Messe des Convents" and numerous French "plein-jeu" as a rule), the low B in the pedal which exists on some French organs, but not on German instruments. And yet, not real equivalent can be found in French music : such a fantasy remains one of its kind, it has a three-movement, highly contrasted design, with first and last sections of broken chords and arpeggio figures on either side of a powerful five-part "allabreve".
The "Pastorale" is unique among Bach's works. Several questions have been raised about it : are the four movements all authentic ? Were they all meant to be played on the organ ? Must they be played one after the other ? Were they regrouped later ? In that case, who did so and why ? The title "Pastorale" might only apply to the first movement, as some 19th century copies tend to show. If such is not the case, the succession of various keys remains unique in Bach's works (F major to A minor ; C major ; C minor ; F major). It is however a perfectly coherent and original whole, in which one can detect the frame of a 4 part sonata : pastorale, allemande, aria and gigue.
The Canonic Variations on the choral entitled: "Vom Himmel hoch, da komm' ich her", are of a widely different nature and scope. This piece was written by Bach when he joined the "Society of Musical Sciences" founded in 1738 by Lorenz Christoph Mizler. The "Society" only accepted as members musical "theoreticians" who had to submit a "work" testifying to their musical abilities. On that occasion. Bach produced a series of variations of unbelievable complexity. They are :
Var. I (3 parts) : Canon at the octave between the top parts. Cantus Firmus in the pedal.
Var. II (3 parts) : Canon at the fifth between the top parts. Cantus Firmus in the pedal.
Var. III (4 parts) : Canon at the seventh between tenor and bass ; free part for the alto. Cantus Firmus in the soprano.
Var. IV (4 parts) : Canon in augmentation between soprano and bass ; free part for the alto. Cantus Firmus in the tenor.
Var. V (3, then 4 parts) : succession of various inverted canons at the sixth, third, second, ninth and in diminution.
One remains dumfounded in the face of such technical achievements. Yet, that very learned and magical intertwining of parts, which often seems to go beyond the bounds of human perception, gradually fades out under the spell of the poetical soul of the music. J.S.Bach's genius has once again managed the brilliant feat of turning an abstract exercise into the most beautiful organ piece, transcending technique through musical feeling.
Pascale Rouet - Translation : Alain Diana, Susan Landale
OUR CD 2 : "CONCERT BAROQUE"
About the programme :
Henry du Mont was born in the ancient province of Liège in 1610. Brought up to the sound of Italian music, a friend of Huyghens's, he arrived in Paris around 1640. His outstanding musical personality and ambition (he wrongly claimed to have introduced the use of the thorough bass) led him from the organ loft of St Paul's to the service of the Duke of Anjou. In 1683 he was appointed teacher's assistant to the King's Musicians, then composer for "la Chapelle" (1672), and finally teacher's assistant to the Queen's Musicians. His book of motets (1668) contains, together with vocal pieces of indisputable beauty (cf the echo Lectulo Meo) a few instrumental works for the viol, the harpsichord or the organ.
Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704) was also trained at the Italian school (Le Mercure wrote "he had learnt music under Carissimi"). He was a most eclectic composer, collaborating with Molière for the "Malade Imaginaire", directing the Dauphin's musicians, composing theatre music for the house of the Guise. A counter tenor himself, he has left us, in his "Meslanges", a large corpus of sacred music, including, among masses, "leçons de ténèbres" and oratorios, 235 short motets from which the two elevations of our present recording have been borrowed.
Louis Couperin came to the notice of Jacques Champion de Chambonnières on the occasion of a country dawn serenade, and subsequently left Chaumes-en-Brie in 1653 to hold the position of organist at Saint-Gervais (Paris). This position was to stay with the family until 1826. In turn organist, harpsichordist and violist, he frequented the salons where rhetoric was the rage, and moved in the circle of Johann-Jakob Froberger, who had arrived in Paris in 1652. An essential link between the polyphonic works of Roberday, Titelouze... and the late 17th century composers, he contributed to the advent of the "Goûts Réunis", dear to his nephew François who, in 1713, talked with respect about his works which "are still appreciated by people with exquisite taste".
Related to the Le Nain painters, Nicolas Lebègue (1631-1702) was an exceptionally influential musician. Many copies of his works reached the New world during his lifetime. Organist at Saint-Merry and at the Chapelle Royale, he was also a harpsichordist, an expert at organ building, and a famous teacher (Grigny and Agincourt were among his numerous pupils). He has left us many motets for small orchestras, two books of harpsichord pieces, and three books of organ pieces whose tone rhetoric is characteristic of organ composing under Louis 14th. The piece you will hear is taken from the third book (1685). It is a G minor elevation, an instrumental imitation of a real small vocal motet.
The sacred repertory of François Couperin is limited to two organ masses, a few motets and three "leçons de ténèbres". Organist at Saint-Gervais and at the Chapelle Royale harpsichord master at the house of France, tireless animator of the "Goûts Réunis", he left us "leçons de ténèbres" for Holy Wednesday, for the use of the Dames Religieuses de Lomchamp. They were successfully sung there, and very much liked during the time the Opera closed every year for Lent. Like the other two lessons which have reached us, the second lesson is based on verses from the first Lamentation of the prophet Jeremiah and gives to the bass, in several sequences a rather concerto-like atmosphere.
Born around 1643, the son of a blind Parisian, Jacques Boyvin, after practising at the Quinze-Vingt, was appointed organist at the cathedral of Rouen after a competitive examination in 1674. In his first book (1689) he appears as an audacious harmonist in his "Grand Plein Jeu Continu", enriched with many borrowings, "cadences évitées et autres retards". His second book, published by Ballard in 1700, is provided with precious indications such as "Vite et hardiment" for the "dessus de tierce", and "Gay" to "fort lentement" in the Grand dialogue with four choirs in the fourth tone (book 2).
André Campra was born in Aix-en-Provence in 1660. He was choir-master in Toulon, Arles and Toulouse, and was appointed music master at Notre-Dame de Paris in 1694. From 1695, he devoted himself to the opera repertory, much to the despair of musical chronicler Lecerf de la Viéville who wrote: "... if the poor boy had not deserted the Church to go and serve the Opera, I think Italy would be hard put to contend with us successfully." Composer at the Chapelle Royale, then inspector of the Opera, he succeeded in cultivating both the French spirit and the Italian taste, the profane repertory and sacred music at the same time.
His large religious work includes, besides grand motets, masses and spiritual tunes, five books of motets. In the present recording you will hear the motet to the Blessed Sacrament "0 dulcis amor" from third book (1703), which alternates slow and swift tempos and is based on two Italianizing "da capo" arias ; then you will hear the Jubilate Deo (Book 1, 1695), based on large extracts from Psalm 99, which is pervaded with the jubilation and confidence of the congregation.
Dr Jean-Christophe Leclère, organist in L'Epine (Champagne, France)
OUR CD 3 : "JEAN-JACQUES BEAUVARLET-CHARPENTIER"
Jean-Jacques Beauvarlet-Charpentier (1734-1794) was one of the most celebrated organists of his day. His father, Jean-Baptiste Beauvarlet, was organist at the Hospice de la Charité in Lyon, and his own son, Jacques-Marie (1763-1834) was also to make his name as an organist. Having taken over the position of his father, Jean-Jacques lived in Lyon until 1771, where he was also organist at the Académie des Beaux-Arts.
No doubt his appointment as organist at the Royal Abbey of Saint-Victor in Paris was due to the influence of Mgr. de Montazet, who was both Archbishop of Lyon and Abbé of Saint-Victor. As early as 1772 he succeeded Daquin at St. Paul du Marais, a post he combined with St. Eloi des Orfèvres. Finally in 1783 he joined the company of Armand-Louis Couperin, Balbastre and Séjan, as organist at Notre Dame, the four of them performing their duties on the basis of a quarterly rotation.
Le Duc published 12 issues of his "Journal d'orgue à 1'usage des paroisses et des communautés religieuses", the last number appearing in May 1784. Among his other published organ works are : "6 fugues" (op. 6, 1777), "3 Magnicats" (op. 7, circa 1778) and "Douze Noëls variés" (op. 13, 1782).
His journal gives a good insight into the "decadent" style of organ music as performed by the Paris organists towards the end of the 18th century. While Beauvarlet clings to classical French forms dictated by stereotype registers, yet his musical vocabulary also makes free use of formulas borrowed from Viennese classicism. Again, we find him sometimes returning to the Cantus Firmus and imitation technique. In view of this, David Fuller talks of a "feeble grasp of counterpoint" and "a hasty improvisatory approach to form". In contrast, Nicolas Gorenstein goes so far as to say that "la notation squelettique... cache des pièces maîtresses".
In 1766 the celebrated French organ builder Riepp completed no less than four organs for the monastery at Salem. Since the monks were totally unfamiliar with his instruments, Riepp wrote a humorous guidebook in which the classical French registrations were reduced to picturesque tableaux : the grand jeu becomes a "Malzeit vor ein Generall oder vor einen Grossen Prelatten und das Convent", solo flute is "vor alter mäner", the echo is suitable for "les ignorants". Nos. 1 and 26 (grand jeu), 11 and 16 (solo flute), 10, 15 and 25 (echo) in this recording provide perfect illustrations to Riepp's picturesque descriptions.
The well-known adagio by César Franck ("Mon orgue, c'est mon orchestre") reflects a musical trend already present at the end of the Ancien Régime. In the two Offertoires ("Concerto de hautbois ou de flutte" no. 11 and "simphonie concertante" no. 15) the organ plays both the role of orchestra and solo instrument. Hardly a decade later we find the Swabian organist Justin Heinrich Knecht borrowing this idea. In his "Orgelschule"( 1795) he composes among other things a "kleines Hoboeconcert" and a "kleines Flötenconcert". It was not only in the field of organ building that we see a two-way exhange of ideas and influences between France and the South-West of Germany (Riepp, Holzhey, Silbermann). This is also the case at the level of organ composition. The virtuoso organist Abbé Vogler (1749-1814) from Mannheim, who paid frequent visits to France after 1784, must certainly have been an important intermediary figure in this process. Although Knecht was never one of Vogler's pupils, he was much influenced by the latter's theoretical writings.
Not everyone will recognize these subjective and often very extrovert compositions as "organ music". Yet this music was intended to accompany the liturgy no less closely than the compositions of a Bach or a Buxtehude.
Jan Van Mol, organist in Antwerpen (Belgium)
OUR CD 5 : "DANDRIEU, NOELS VARIES POUR L'ORGUE"
Pierre Dandrieu : (the uncle), born in Angers, towards 1664, and died in Paris, October 1733. Jean-François Dandrieu : (his nephew), was born in Paris in 1681 or 82, and died here January 17th, 1738.
The DANDRIEU French organists and composers, come from a family background established in Angers. Pierre DANDRIEU was born here on March 21th, 1664, and his elder brother Jean DANDRIEU (the father of Jean-François), on January 4th, 1656. This same Jean DANDRIEU moved from Angers to Paris, a short time before 1682, and in Paris were born all his four childrens, among them Jean-François (b. 1681 or 82) and his sister Jeanne-Françoise DANDRIEU (probably b. 1695 and dead about 1760). Jeanne-Françoise was a gifted harpsichordist and organist who substitued frequently for her brother at playing the organ of St-Barthélémy church in Paris, and finally succeeded him after his death.
Pierre DANDRIEU was a priest, and organist at St-Barthélémy church in Paris (today destroyed ). This composer of a one and only "Livre de Noëls", lived here all his life and worked quietly, without fuss. Jean-François DANDRIEU, the first son of Jean and nephew of Pierre, succeeded his uncle at the organ ot St-Barthélémy ; but also, as early as 1704, he had succeeded Nicolas LEBEGUE as organist of St-Merry church. Finally, he acceded after 1721 to the quarter-post of organist for the Chapelle Royale du Château de Versailles. A child prodigy in music, an outstanding composer and virtuoso, Jean-François remains the most famous "DANDRIEU", above all celebrated for his harpsichord pieces, in which he appears as a real challenger to his famous rival François COUPERIN.
"NOELS VARIES" FOR THE ORGAN
of Pierre and Jean-François Dandrieu, with the singing versions from Ballard's, 1703
There is some similarities between the birth of the French Noëls and those of the lutheran Chorales. Originals melodies (sometimes called "timbres") are taken from secular repertory, in despite of their broad features. In the XVth cent. the Noëls collection came out, but his enrichment continued until the middle of the XVIIIth. Within this period, some publications are issued, often named Bible des Noëls, with or without music. Undoubtedly, Christophe Ballard's book, issued in 1703 and titled as "Chant de Noëls anciens et nouveaux" has to be considered as a point of maturity and hight level in the history of the Noëls. The two performers of the present recording have choised from it the versions for voice and thorough-bass which constitue the first models for the French organists.
If, as we have said before, the repertory of Noëls is constitued in the same way that the chorales one's, some others similarities may be noted. First, the popular and poetic expression of religious devotion ; second, the immediate perception of the melodies by listeners.
The technique of the parody, in its relative simplicity, is quite ingenious in numberous items. His closeness with the medieval system of tropes (adding music, words, or both music and words) in gregorian chant is remarquable, in particular when we consider that the text, rhymed, must conserve the original rythm along. One of the better examples, in lutheran chorales, is the beautiful chanson of Heinrich Isaac Innsbrück, ich muss dich lassen (Innsbrück, I must leave you) transformed in 0 Welt, ich muss dich lassen (0 World, I must leave you). We could isolate from Noëls some lucky finds of equal quality. The French scholar Amédée Gastoué mentionned in his study on Canticles and Noëls, first published in 1924, Jehan Tisserant's name, a Franciscan, as one of the earliest creators of a poetic and popular repertory. All the Noëls' texts presently recorded conform with this style, simple in despite of the constraints.
The musical forms, simple and clear in the originals versions remain intouched. We can stress on the abundance of two patterns : A A B (for example the Noël ]e me suis levé) ; A B A (sometimes A B A') like in the Noël Joseph est bien marié.
French organists enjoy this repertory of which listeners would have recognize immediatly some melodic elements. Variations is the better form in the treatment of Noëls (it is another parallelism with the elaboration of organ chorales). All the great French organists, until César Franck who took some Noëls melodies in his collection 1' Organiste, composed in the last year of his life, were interested in the variations on Noëls : Raison, Lebègue, Beauvarlet-Charpentier, Gigault, Daquin, Balbastre, Corrette, etc. Around 1710, Pierre Dandrieu, Jean-François' uncle, published a book titled : Noëls, 0 Filii, Chansons de Saint Jacques, et Carillons pour l'orgue et le clavecin. Pierre Dandrieu was priest and organist in St Barthelemy, in Paris. We know of him just this book and a few songs printed by Ballard in 1697 and 1699. Jean-Francois rook a large part of his uncle's book and published between 1721 and 1733 a collection of Noels named: Noels, 0 Filii, chanson de Saint Jacques et carillons pour orgue et clavecin. He contented himself to add eleven Noëls of his own. This act is perhaps the reason for which Pierre Dandrieu, dead in 1733, did not mention the name of his nephew in his will.
Jean-François Dandrieu's fame is based essentially on his three harpsichord's books. His style, here, is closed to Couperin's. His variations on Noëls are certainly more pleasant and smooth than actually ineffable, but their character, light and graceful, is really convenient with the contemplation of a beautiful crib.
Generally, the Dandrieu's (uncle and nephew) Noëls show the melody in the upper part, with a simple accompaniment. Then follows a certain number of variations, depending on the fantasy and the possibilities offered by the melody, using an ornamental technique or rapid changements of coulours and texture. On no account, we could have the use of contrapuntal technique, because of the spirit of simplicity and ingenuousness which are the principles of these small pieces. For the essential, the effect is furnished by the organ stops ; the instrument displays many colours and gave the Noëls all they need. Pierre Dandrieu, we have said it, was organist in St Barthélémy (the church was destroyed when the Baron Haussmann refitted the north of Paris), where his nephew played as occasion arises. Jean-François played at St Merri and at the Chapelle Royale, Versailles. The organs he plays were classical instruments. The Mouzon's organ (Christophe Moucherel, 1725 reconstructed by Barthélémy Formentelli, 1991) is an ideal instrument (sonority and stops), closed to the Dandrieu's instruments. A great choir of reeds, possibilities of echo, solo stops are admirably convenient for the variety needed by Noëls.
Jean-Philippe Navarre, text and translation
OUR CD 6 " DANSES A L'ORGUE "
Dance music at the organ, by Pascale ROUET
The suggestion to play and record dance music on the organ seems always an ambiguous plan, because this "King ot the Instruments" is more traditionnally convenient for liturgical or holy program than secural or light entertainment's one.
However, we must not forget that organ was not, from the very beginning a church instrument, but rather a secular one. More likely admitted into places ot worship, more often against the clergy's advice, who considered it as the devils instrument. Furthermore, the fields of holy and secular music was less delimited than today.
If most of secular organ pieces was intented for small cabinet organs, we could not hesitate to play them on ancient stops, so vivid and tull of brightness, presented by todays instruments, rebuilt recently in an old or traditionnal fashion. Moreover, dance music has so acted upon instrumental repertory that it has given rise to important forms, even far from original patterns (e.g. passacaille, chaconne, and so on).
The program recorded here was established from a double point of view : first, introducing a choice of keyboard music by Bernardo Storace, and then illustrating the organ of Mouzon's voices, with mixed stops not yet plaved (or slightly) or recorded. According to this selection of pieces, I have renounced a chronologic order, but I preferred alternate different eras, so that their numerous kinds and colours can light up each other. The music is mainly devoted to the Italian composer Bernardo Storace, about whom we know just a very little. His single collection of pieces, titled Selva di varie Compositioni d'intavolatura per cimbalo ed organo and published in Venice, 1664, shows an uncommun weath and deepness. We find in it several magnificent passacaglie and ciaconne, with occasionnally some strange harmonies, variations upon popular tunes and more characteristic dance music. According to the use ot this time, the pieces were intended indistinctly tor harpschord or organ. I've chosen of course those which seemed more convenient for our instrument. I've also recorded four dances by Giovanni Picchi (organist of Santa Maria dei Frarii in Venice). His book, called Intavolatura di balli d'arpicordo, issued in 1621, constitute one of the most famous manuscript of keyboard dances in the 17th century. The 16th century is represented here by Italian dances taken from Intabulatura nova, published 1551 in Venice and completed by other french dances chosen in the Attaingnant' s collection of 1531.
We make a short travel in the mediaeval world, with a typical piece, called Estampie, taken from the famous Robertsbridge Codex, a manuscript which is probably a fragment from a larger collection, today lost, surely the oldest organ tablature yet knowed. The last work inscribed in our program will certainlv be surprising... Why a piece by Belá Bartók ? and moreover a transcription, among musics of past centuries. It constitue a large jump over centuries. But, I could not resist tentation to end on this musical fireworks. Bartok dances, drewed from Rumanian folklore, seemed to me not so far from the spirit ot irridescents musics, also popular, coming rigth from the past.
(translated by Miche/ Dehaye}
Glossary of dance terms, by Pascale Rouet
(According to Orchesography, by Thoineau Arbeau [ps. Tabourot]
and Bordas Dictionary of Music)
Court Dance, of Italian origin. His name would come from the town of Padova. His caracter is solemn and majestic.
Sort of pavane danced less heavily and in a more light measure.
Rapid dance, flourished in Europe between the l6th and the 18th centuries, of uncertain origin. His heavy caracter is more convenient for young people, according to T. Arbeau.
Dance issued from the end of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. In the XVth century, the Basse danse was a court dance very praised, in Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain. His fashion passed around 1550. His measure is slow.
Ancient French dance, close from the Basse dance. Arbeau speak of four varieties, some slow, some quick.
The fashion of Estampie was great in the medieval Europe. His caracrer is soft and rythmical, accompanied of feet and hands beating. The musical form is often AA, BB, CC, ...
This term is used for any dance quick and noisy. But a rather noisy dance, of portuguese origine, is also found under this name. Passing by Spain, it spreaded through Europe with rapidity. His name is derived from "folie". His musical form adopt often the variations on a ground.
Coming from the Spanish expression pasar por la calle (pass into the street), it was sang or performed in the street. The musical form concern the writing or improvising variations on a short motiv at the bass. Composers devoted it mainly for keyboard, e.g. Bach and Kerll (organ), and Louis Couperin (Harpsichord).
Very closed from Passacaille, the Chacony is nearly the same model. Mattheson precise that his tempo is rather slowly than those of Pasacailles. We must mention here the magnificents Chaconies by H. Purcell.
Pascale ROUET, translated by Michel Dehaye
OUR CD 7/8 " L'Art de la fugue ", J.S. Bach
The Art of Fugue
The Art of Fugue begins as a theme made up of twelve notes, a circular structure with its point of origin as its final goal. It would at first appear as if this represents the immutability of perfection, that all has been said. And then against every expectation, this immutable perfection begins to grow, more like a tree than like a scrupulously planned architectural structure. The dynamic energy of a tree flows from the juxtaposition of the effective equilibrium inherent in its seed with the multifarious incidents of its growth. In the Art of Fugue the perfect seed, the twelve-note theme, will be subjected in a like manner to mulfarious modifications: twisted, stretched, condensed, reversed; it will battle with hostile elements and give birth to unlikely allies. The unexpected reigns. What, in fact, could be more unforeseeable than the two pauses which interrupt the succinct discourse toward the end of the first fugue? Each piece in this collection contains similar turns. Contrary to popular depiction, Bach is in fact a rebel, and the " constraints " of the fugue actually provide him with the greatest freedom.
Yes, each of these fugues employs a specific and clearly defined system, but they are never employed as an end in itself; Bach takes continual pleasure in distorting or interfering with them in one manner or another. Here, as in life, encounters and events are responsible for continually changing our carefully established plans, thus leading us to new and unsuspected horizons. The performance as well as the reception of such a work is an adventure, a journey across a landscape jealous of its secrets. Whoever is content to cross it with leisurely distraction will only remark an aimless monotony. But whoever dares to venture upon the least beaten tracks of this forest, to sit and dream in front of one of its exquisite trees, this person will be rewarded with innumerable and astonishing wonders.
Louis Thiry, organist
Translation: Mark Manion
Youth and Maturity
When I was about fifteen or sixteen years old I was literally hexed, enslaved and liberated at the same time by the unique music of the Art of Fugue. This magic has never diminished. The coincident arrival of the year 2000, the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death, the 20th anniversary of the "Présence de l’Abbatiale" (monastery presence), and my 50th birthday seemed to happen by pure chance. But in Bach’s music, from the first to the last note, nothing is left to chance.
We deliberately wanted to honor through juxtaposition the great master’s youth and his majestic maturity as a symbol for the whole of his musical bequest. Our choice was to place the perhaps most popular and famous of all the works ever written for organ next to the work known as one of the most difficult and forbidding for this instrument, one could say the most unpopular! Two works by the same composer, but the path traveled represents the exuberance of his youth and the transcendental mastery of his last years… And as a manner of transition, we pass by way of three little-known chorales. The making of this recording was marked throughout by great enthusiasm, from the casual exchange of ideas among friends up to the intense work and dedication of all the participants… It is a beautiful, amicable accomplishment built around an instrument with a truly Baroque temperament equal to the music and the artists. Many thanks to all for their contributions to this project, and to Olivier Buttex for the production.
Jean-Philippe Gélu, President of "Présence de l’Abbatiale" (Monastery Presence)
Translation: Mark Manion
" American Record Guide "
Bach : Art de la Fugue
Pascale Rouet & Jean-Christophe Leclère, org
Gallo 1047/1048 (2 CD) 101 minutes
" One cannot play Bach on a French organ " says the organ expert. But can one ? This recording answers that question in a distinctly French way. The title of this recording gives a clue as to its content ; Bach’s name has been translated into French and so has his music.
It was made by two French organists playing on a 44-stop, four-manual organ built in 1723-25 by Christophe Moucherel in the Abbey of Mouzon near Rheims. My first inclination was to pass on this, since the French classic organ is such a specialized medium – a gigantic color machine and not a contrapuntal instrument at all. Thus it would not seem the appropriate choice for Bachs fugues. But I love those organs and I had to have a listen. I expected something akin to the Bach recordings Dupré made on later french organs. What I found was something completely different – and thoroughly enjoyable, after some mental adjustements.
Rouet and Leclère are very fine organists entirely at ease with both the registrational and keyboard practice of France in the 17th and 18th centuries. The effect they have produced is what one might have expected had members of the Couperin family got hold of this music and performed it on one of the organs they knew. The French classic organ is made up of three families of voices : a dark, opaque principal chorus called Plein Jeu, flutes and mutations called Jeux de Tierce, and powerful reeds called Grands Jeux. Combinations of stops in each of these families are used contrastingly, but there is seldom mixing of stops outside of families. The pedal of the French organ is designed to play solo lines in the tenor and to play pedal points. It is based on two stops : a loud open 8’ Flute, usually made of wood, and a 8’ Trompette, the loudest stop on the organ. The pedal doesn’t play the bass line as it does in the organs of northern Europe. For this reason Rouet and Leclère have collaborated so that they could perform Art de Fugue with two, three, and four hands as necessary.
The disc begins with some hors d’œuvres ; the first is the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, played entirely on the Grands Jeux in the manner of an 18th Century French fugue – there are even some notes inégales. The organ has splendid reeds. The three choral preludes that follow and Art de Fugue are played with registrations used for the suites of versets composed for French organs. It is thus that the music has been translated into French.
Contrapunctus 3 is played entirely on the 4’ Flute of the Grand Orgue with the Tremblant doux. Rouet and Leclère use contrasting combinations for the fugal voices ; Contrapunctus 4 places the treble on the Grand Cornet and the other voices on the Cromorne. N° 17 contrasts the 16’ and 8’ Bourdons and the Grande Tierce of the Grand Orgue with the cornet separe of the Positif.
What would Bach have thought ? I couldn’t possibly guess. Does it work ? It does if one listens in French. L’Art de Fugue wasn’t scored for a particular instrument and it has been performed by many people on many instruments. Its counterpoint is clearly heard in this recording, and the players are very musical. The last fugue is played on the Bourdon and Flute of the Grand Orgue with the Tremblant doux. When it stops without ending the effect is as startling as ever.
The last fugue is followed by " Vor Deinen Thron " played slowly on the Grand Plein Jeu, manuals coupled. When the cantus enters, the powerful sound of the Pedale Trompette rips through the ornate texture. It’s a fabulous tonal experience even on a recording.
For two groups of people this is not recommended. The first is those seeking a recording of The Art of Fugue that is as nearly historically accurate as possible, played on an instrument the composer might have admired. See David Mulbury’s discussion in May/June. The second group is those who resent the attitude of cultural superiority that impels the French to view or translate just about anything into their language.
For others who enjoy new perspectives on things familiar and for those who enjoy the sensual drill of a glorious masterpiece of an organ played with skill and panache this is highly recommended. We shall hope to hear more recordings made on this organ. Especially to be hoped for would be performances of French composers from its period.
OUR CD 9 : IMPROVISATIONS, by Marc PINARDEL
The organ (1725 – 1991)
Prelude : " One more ‘pastiche’ without any interest… ". This is what I was contemptuously told by a well-known French musicologist and journalist at the time of the rebuilding of the organ. Since its inauguration by Olivier Latry in October 1991 until today, this ‘pastiche’ has interested, not to say enthused, a huge number of listeners and organists coming from every corner of Europe ; it was played during 70 public concerts and a few private ones, and its gallery has attracted numerous visitors. Seven recordings made there are well-known and duly appreciated all over the world : 3 CDs of French music "Au fil du Motet" - J.J. Beauvarlet-Charpentier and Dandrieu ; 2 CDs of J.S. Bach (the first and the last double album : "The Art of Fugue") ; 1 CD dedicated to dances from the Middle Age to Béla Bartók…
Specifics of this instrument : If one merely reads its specification, that is the stop list and their siting, one notices that this organ is a French one, without any concession. In Christophe Moucherel’s "Mémoire Instructif" (Rodez, 1734) the description of the organ lies as follows : " 4 manuals with Pedal, a large eight foot with a Stopped Diapason 16’… ", with a significant Echo including 7 independent stops, a welcome inheritance from the 17th c. representing the 3 families : stopped diapason, nason and third, musette (actually a narrow Cromorn) and a shutter located above the manuals so that it may be played like a German Brustwerk. This is not surprising since Moucherel learnt his trade with German organ builders and that he probably was acquainted with the French, German and Flemish organ building techniques of his time. Thus, although the Great, Positive and Echo manuals have most certainly been put back to their original layout, some quite interesting additions have considerably improved this instrument without altering its style : 50 notes for both principal manuals instead of 48, 32 notes instead of 27 for the Récit, 39 for the Echo and 27 on the Pedal instead of the former 24. Great and Positive go up as far as D50, without a first C sharp, as in Albi, the Récit goes down to G2, the Echo to C2, and to the two Pedal octaves are added C#, D and E in the treble. So much for the keyboards’ compasses… with all due respect to the original case and the console window.
At Mouzon a few stops were added : to the Récit : Cornet, a Trumpet and an Oboe (as at Albi) ; to the Pedal a Flute 16’ and a Bombarde. Moucherel’s Pedal, extending from F0 to F2, with Flutes 12’ and 6’, Trumpet and Clarion, could not be rebuilt in the same way. Of course an almost identical rebuilding allows for a few liberties provided that they respect the style and the case of the instrument. From Moucherel’s work, besides this splendid box, remained a few stop stickers, the Pedal soundboards and wood Flutes… and 5 small tin pipes probably from the Plein-jeu. Barthélémy Formentelli, having restored the Albi masterpiece a few years before, recognized the Master’s hand in the seam technique. The other soundboards disappeared with Déjardin’s work, around 1870, aimed at bringing the organ in line with current taste – the symphonic style – and in 1917 the metal pipes were seized by the Germans.
So much for the specification, but this is far from caracterizing the organ French or baroque. How many so-called baroque instruments – where each stop should have its own personality and be able to "chat" with the others – reveal the best of themselves in a piece by César Franck, or, rather, do nothing but " mew in the corner ", to quote the French organ-builder Bernard Aubertin, or further still, give a rather fair imitation of the classical electronic organ or church organ ! It is not enough to allocate a name to a stop. It must also be given the appropriate instrumental voicing… a somewhat challenging task.
At the workshop : everything must be made by craftsmen and according to the rule book : at Mouzon, Dom Bédos was the absolute reference, without any concession. Here it would be too time-consuming to list all the characteristics but one must carefully read his Treatise "The Art of the Organ-builder" (1766). Let us simply take the example of tin : melting at the workshop, 95 % as a general rule, hand planing, mechanical hammering, nickless languid. For the reeds : scraped brass tongue, cut-out and filed by hand, iron French tuning-wire, walnut wedge. Doubly parchmented wedge-bellows with wooden windtrunk and lead conveyancing. Soundboards, keyboards and mechanical action parts made of local noble materials as would have originally been done.
In the loft : Here for the first time the organ-builder gives the instrument its sound. At Mouzon four people were kept busy for three months by this essential and stirring work called voicing. As the logical follow-up of the labours in the workshop, it must somehow enhance them, requiring not only extensive experience but also a well-judged taste and a certain feeling for the instrumental art of poetry : opening the flues on the spot according to the style, the wind pressure and the nave acoustics ; work on reeds, especially on their tongues. This is not the implementation of a finite and repetitive know-how, but rather a sort of a new CREATION with all its inherent hazards and good fortunes. At Mouzon the reference was once again Dom Bédos but also Albi (1734) and a few remnants : a 75 mm water column pressure, flues slightly higher than usual, A 392, unequal temperament with 3 true thirds. The Diapasons follow a rather large frontage whose scaling was found back as drawn by Christophe Moucherel with a divider on the reverse side of the lower case panels. The voicing of that period with a sharp-edged languid facilitates an ideal pronunciation with a clear and straightforward attack, without any flabbyness, and with an assertive tone quality, rich in natural harmonics. Of course anyone expecting so-called and modern "perfection" from a pipe organ, without any "interference" - to quote the acousticians - and the "perfect" homogenization of all the notes, will not be satisfied with this "human" harmony, much more difficult to achieve. As a counterpart what a life, what a nature, what a character are to be found in these sounds ! An increasing number of organists and listeners, even the neophytes, are no longer deceived by adverse comments…
Marc Pinardel (1957)
Prelude : " He is without any doubt the greatest French organist of his generation ", thus wrote recently an impresario about his protégé. I do not dispute this statement yet I would like to raise three questions : how can the greatness be objectively measured ? why should we limit ourselves to the borders of our country ? is it convenient to distinguish among generations ?…
Marc : He is neither the greatest, nor the holder of the highest number of diplomas, nor the most famous, nor the most recorded, nor the most in demand. He is an unaffected young man, a hard worker whenever he feels like it, with a natural sense of humour and even of mockery, serious if necessary, unassuming, and stubborn ; he is also a loyal friend, a thoughtful husband and a father adored by his two children. What more one could ask for ? Well a fiery passion for improvisation and music in all its forms, classical, jazz and light music. Marc is as a performent church organist, at Notre Dame de Grâce de Passy (Paris) as a piano player at Maxim’s bar. But his longing to play "any music which appeals to him" goes back a long way in his past : at Rheims Music School, his teacher Arsène Muzerelle already complained that he was " a highly gifted student but who does just what pleases him… " The result is striking, as Marc improvises in every style including his own. At an early age he swore that he would master the difficult exercise of trio playing, and he did it. At Mouzon he had a pleasant company : Pascale Rouet, who was simultaneously recording, Vincent Paulet and Christophe Marchand, composers, the author of these lines, an efficient technical support and lots of friendship and bonhomie. What is his ideal environment to feel well, hearty and … able to relish as a refined gourmet ? Actually Marc has no recipe, but he simply abides by the rules of a given style, while allowing himself a few slight transgressions and many fantasies, all of which make him recognized among many others by his friends. During the recording Marc had to repeat the same piece several times (thank you, Michel, for your patience at the other end of the microphone) before obtaining a presentable result, as any editing is out of the question in an improvised performance ! Well, I can vouch for the fact that he never played the same tune twice : in other words there is nothing ready-made in his inspiration. At Mouzon besides the styles which he enjoys, Marc considered the organ as his point of departure to make it sound as its best and to reveal all its facets, including some of them rather unsuspected. The outcome is a genuine, highly musical and varied demonstration of what can be achieved with an "uninteresting pastiche". Thank you Marc.
Jean-Philippe Gélu, "Présence de l’Abbatiale" de Mouzon
To record CDs of improvisations.
For quite a while I was held back by the paradox of fixing what is but of passing fluidity.
However the loved ones’ photographs do move me, they hold the perfume of life.
Here are the snapshots of these nightly strolls upon a thread, tied to the first note, which unrolls itself under the feet.
A dizzying and exhilarating trip, led by emotions which leave no room for words, a parallel and intimate language, both erratic and vectorial.
Translation : Françoise Lamon, William Whitehead
Writer : Jean-Philippe Gélu : jeanphilippe.gelu(at)orgue-mouzon.org
Webmaster : Amaël Potron : potronam(at)free.fr
(at) = @
Back to french version