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Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Existing and forthcoming Hauptwerk instruments, recommendations, ...

Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby TimM » Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:44 am

Hi all. I'm looking for an opinion, if I may. I've pretty much finished my fantastic Hauptwerk organ (I'll post proud pics soon), and I'm looking for a large, versatile French organ. (I'm well covered for Baroque.) I've done some research and narrowed my choice down to three or four, though if someone wants to recommend one I missed I'd be grateful. Does anyone have an opinion on versatility and sound quality on these?

1) St. Eucaire - This gets great reviews, but it is the smallest, most limited in variety, so I am strongly inclined to remove it from consideration.

2) Notre Dame de Metz Cavaillé-Coll - A larger Cavaillé-Coll, presumably as good sounding as St. Eucaire but more versatile. The price is a bit intimidating; why is it so much more expensive than similar organs?

3) Notre-Dame de Laeken Schyven / Van Bever (Full Edition) - A large, versatile instrument but with a weird disposition. It appears that most stops are not individually selectable, but only in predefined groups. If it were not for this, I would be inclined to choose this one based on its lovely looking ranks.

4) St. Maximin - A large instrument, wonderful stop list, except that even the extended version seems to have annoying pedal limitations. Maybe not in practice, with good coupling.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Tim
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Re: Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby mnailor » Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:39 am

If you're looking for a French symphonic organ, Caen from Sonus Paradisi should be at or near the top of the list, and St. Maximin, a late French classical organ, should not even be on it. Caen and Metz are the best large C-C options, in my opinion.

Personally I like Caen better and find Metz a little tubby -- heavy foundations and not enough blaze. Others will disagree.

You mentioned "versatile", but French historical organs were generally not eclectic. Caen or Metz will handle most Romantic and 20th century music that doesn't need a Tuba solo or a lot of strings, but aren't quite as versatile as something like the Hereford Willis from Lavender Audio or the Salisbury Willis from Milan.

(But if you were looking for French classical/baroque, St. Maximin is the only one on your list, and is great, but you should also consider St. Michel. Those pedal limitations are part of the French classical tradition and that's the intended music.)

Please use Browse > Advanced Search on the contrebombarde web site to listen to recordings of the organs you want to compare.
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Re: Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby TimM » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:04 am

Thank you! I am completely baffled as to how I missed the Caen. I (thought I) searched the Sonus site thoroughly. Not enough coffee yet. This organ looks perfect to me. It just moved to the top of my list.

Tim
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Re: Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby Mixtuur4st » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:42 pm

3) Notre-Dame de Laeken Schyven / Van Bever (Full Edition) - A large, versatile instrument but with a weird disposition. It appears that most stops are not individually selectable, but only in predefined groups. If it were not for this, I would be inclined to choose this one based on its lovely looking ranks.


This is also a BIG advantage, soundwise: those combinations were recorded as combinations, i.e. the sounds were mixing in the air before reaching the microphones.
To achieve the same "reality" of the sound if the stops were recorded separately you would need a HW installation with very many output chanels.

For this reason I use Laeken much more often than I use Caen, which I also have.

Have fun,
Jack
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Re: Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby josq » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:11 pm

There is also the St. Omer Cavaille-Coll, also from Sonus Paradisi. From Organ Art Media, there is the Ducroquet-Cavaillé-Coll from Aix-en-Provence.
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Re: Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby jharmon » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:39 pm

The Caen remains my French organ of choice, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the extension offered by Jake. (customhworgans@gmail.com) Priced very reasonably it takes the excellent Caen and and adds great extended voicing and expression on the Positif. Be sure to check the size requirements.
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Re: Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby TimM » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:00 pm

Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions! I have enough info now to make my decision.

Tim
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Re: Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby Daniel Dries » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:11 pm

There is no doubt that Caen is wonderful. However, I have recently become quite obsessed with SP St Omer. I used Caen as my default for a few years, but St Omer has (in my opinion) more clarity, realism and quirkiness.

Thanks to HW Master Couplers and Combinations, it is possible to fill in the gaps to make it user friendly. I'm also living in hope that a clever person will provide a extension which will include a couple of pedal 32s. Even without them, I still find it superb for Franck and Widor.

St Omer also has the advantage of being significantly less expensive than Caen, and certainly Metz.

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Re: Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby biogon » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:01 am

I have the same doubt in the search for a romantic organ type C.C. I just upgraded to the advanced version of Hauptwerk and the first organ I've tried is the Pipeloops Oberlinge; It is a modern organ style C.C. but with an extended pedal registration, which makes it more versatile. I loved the concert recordings that appear on the web, but once installed it disappoints the management of the sound planes and the control of the reverberation. It sounds more delayed than others, not only latency.

CC Caen of SP and Metz of Milan organs sound very nice but delayed, very distant and with a blur presence, besides the limitations of the pedal and the high price, especially Metz that is not SR.

As alternative I'm trying out St.Omer that sounds great with Franck, has a better presence and clarity than Metz and Caen, with the same pedal limitations, and being an early CC is more convincing playing Bach. It has SR version and also the price is lower. There are extended versions also.

Another option is the Armley Schulze of Lavender, very good sound; more romantic German than French, but with many possibilities. A great presence and versatility in sound with 6 ch. SR.

The organ Laurenskerk of Rotterdam of SP is a very complete and versatile modern organ, but not very suitable for romantic or symphonic music. It uses a lot of space in memory and is expensive.

All in my opinion...
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Re: Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby TimM » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:17 am

For what my opinion is worth...

When I built my Hauptwerk organ, I chose Rotterdam as my primary organ due to its massive size, versatility, and great recommendations here. I added the Caen as an afterthought, just for variety. But after many months of my wife (a professional organist) and me (an amateur organist) playing regularly, we both find that we use the Caen almost exclusively. The Rotterdam has nearly twice the number of stops and a lot more variety, but my wife and I easily agree that the Caen has much nicer sounding stops. This is a warm, sweet organ with some of the most beautiful stops we have ever heard. We also agree that it sounds better than the REAL Moeller organ she plays at church! Its several Plein Jeu stops are amazing. Wonderful!
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Re: Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby Bonanches » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:58 am

For what my opinion is worth also...
I have over 40 organs covering all schools of music in my Hauptwerk collection and also play a fine Binns organ in my local church. The organ I really enjoy and play the most is the Caen C.C. I agree with TimM that it has some absolutely beautiful stops and everything blends well. If I were restricted to just one organ this would be it.
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Re: Suggestions/comparisons for large French organ?

Postby biogon » Thu Dec 14, 2017 6:26 pm

I would like to know if the SR version of the Caen is significantly better than the wet version of the demo that I have. Because for me, I insist, the Caen wet sounds distant, ethereal with little presence and clarity in the registers, compared with the St. Omer or the Rotterdam in SR versions. I prefer to feel the presence instead an ambient sound of the Organ, as if I were sitting in my living room listening to an organ CD.
It would also be interesting to know what kind of music Timm and his wife play with the Caen, since we know that this Organ is mostly for romantic and symphonic French music.
To accompany the choir in the church the warm and sweet Fonds of Caen are suitable, but if I had to choose a single Organ I would take the St. Omer or the Armley Schulze from Lavender; you can play Franck, Rowley, Widor, but also Frescobaldi, Buxtehude and Bach with a very convincing sound.
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