Special timbres

The organ that Aristide Cavaillé-Coll built for the cathedral of Oloron (Pyrenees) is famous for being one of his most successful organs. That can be clearly heard in this special sample set made by Piotr Grabowski. The difference between French organs and organs in the Northern European tradition is that the labial registers sound less rich in overtones, but the colorful reeds make up for this with their beautiful voices that can be chosen solo or in many combinations.

Jan Jongepier stated that our principal sound on French organs can be composed of the Montre (basic sound), the Flûte harmonique (strength), the Viole de Gamba (overtones) and the Bourdon (fundamental tone). These registers are present in the Oloron organ, but the Montre 8' also sounds very pleasant as a solo voice with a vocal sound in the living room.

A living room has different requirements than a church, so the sounds from the samples must be adapted to the living room. In this organ, the Montre 8' is a wonderful voice to play solo and does not differ much from the Central European Principal. With the addition of the Principal 4', a Plein Jeu (small plenum) sounds, to which the Doublette 2' can add clarity if desired. Each keyboard has three reed stops that produce beautiful sound characters as a solo voice or in various combinations. The Récit Positive has the Basson-Oboe combination; it's a bassoon for the bass and an oboe for the treble.

French reeds are colorful voices that sound more pronounced than the reeds of the Northern and Central European organs. They can be used excellently on their own, but also mix well in various compositions.

Cavaillé-Coll has made many organs for huge churches and as samples for the living room the sounds often do not come into their own. The Oloron sample set does not have that drawback. The sounds fit perfectly into the living room and are able to reproduce the works of Charles Marie Widor, Louis Vierne and Cesar Franck as well as Johann Sebastian Bach and Diettrich Buxtehude in their own style. The samples also show the reputation of this organ as the most successful Cavaillé-Coll organ in the living room.

                                                                                                                                                Piotr Grabowski

Aristide Cavaillé-Coll organ   Cathedrale Sainte-Marie   Oloron  South France

The great organ of the Sainte-Marie Cathedral in Oloron (South France) was built in 1870 by the famous organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. He made use of the existing 17th century organ, most likely built by a member of the Clicquot dynasty. During the French Revolution of 1789, the pipes were looted to be melted down into munitions. In 1870, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll built a new organ on the existing site. The cabinet has a brown color. In 1982, the organ building company Danion-Gonzalez cleaned the instrument and the brown color was replaced by blue.

At present, the organ is in the same state as it was in 1870 when Cavaillé-Coll had finished building it. It has three manuals, but only two of them have registers and the third is used for couplers. These are controlled by pedals above the pedal keyboard. This feature, working with a Barker machine, is relatively unique in Cavaillé-Coll history and gives more coupling options, especially sub-octave coupling for the first manual. There are 24 registers divided over two manuals and a pedal, which is structured in the French traditional organ style.

Récit expressif – It is eight registers in a combination that was often used by Cavaillé Coll. The reeds and the Octavin 2 register are activated by a pedal. The organ has a sweet and slow tremulant and all the registers of the Recit are placed in the swell box which has shutters on three sides. The pipes are chromatically placed on the windchest. The swell box is located behind the central part at the height of the Grand-Orgue.

Grand-Orgue – This disposition of twelve voices is also common in Cavaillé Coll, but the low Plein-Jeu Harmonique based on 16 feet is uncommon, as are reeds of 16, 8, and 4 feet in a medium-sized instrument like this organ. It is located in the main cabinet, which is divided into C and C# drawers. They are placed at the level of the front pipes; the lower part of the organ case contains the Barker machine and bellows.

Pédale - It consists of four registers. Bombarde 16 and Trompette 8 are powerful voices. Each pipe is believed to have had the leather part of the throat removed or simply worn down resulting in a louder sound. In the sample set, the volume of these registers has been lowered slightly to restore the original sound balance. The pedal windchest is split into C and C# sides on opposite sides of the organ case. The case of the back positive is empty; it was made for the Cliquot organ but was too small for Cavaillé Coll pipes.

This organ is very versatile. This makes it possible to stylishly interpret 17th century French classical works, but also to make the works of JS Bach sound as Bach intended, thanks to the deep Gravity of the sounds. In addition, the organ is perfect for playing French romantic and symphonic composers, such as César Franck, Louis Vierne or Charles-Marie Widor.
In France, this organ enjoys the extraordinary reputation of being one of the best organs built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

Récit Positive
Flûte traversière         8'
Viole de Gambe          8'
Voix Céleste              8'
Flûte ovtaviante         4'
Octavin                     2'
Vox Humaine              8'
Basson et Hautbois     8'
Trompette                 8'

Principale                16'
Montre                     8'
Bourdon                   8'
Viole de Gambe         8'
Flûte Harmonique      8'
Prestant                   4'
Octave                     4'
Doublette                 2'
Plein jeu harmonique  V
Basson                   16' 
Trompette                8'
Clairon                    4'

Soubbasse               16'
Flûte                        8'
Bombarde                16'
Trompette                 8'