Le Dorat’s organ

Le Dorat’s organ is an exceptional 19th century instrument. Organ-maker Jean-Loup Boisseau invites you to discover how the organ works, to meet organ-player Dominique Lasnier and to hear him play.

Organ-player Dominique Lasnier: « Here we are in St Pierre du Dorat Collegiate church, standing before this instrument made by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, a famous 19th century organ-maker who built many instruments in France and overseas. This one was purchased by a family from Le Dorat in 1876. What we do know now is that it was built before then – namely because of the way it was built, and that it was a demonstration instrument on display in the Cavaillé-Coll workshop, on Rue du Maine. Anyway, one day it was purchased by the Robert family (from Le Dorat), taken apart then put back together in the collegiate church. Its harmony was never finished which means that this instrument’s tuning fork is slightly lower than a regular organ’s : 435 instead of 442 for its « la » note.
It is also important to know that it is a registered Historical Monument. Marie-Claire Alain had it registered back in 1976. She also recorded her first complete works by Bach on this organ.»
Jean-Loup Boisseau, organ-maker : « This part here is the central part of the organ. It contains the bellows, part of the organ’s mechanism and several of its pipes located on its first floor. Organs are key and pipe instruments. The pipes require wind. Up until the late 19th century, this wind was supplied by bellows, like old fashioned forge bellows. Once electricity was available, centrifugal fans and electric fans were used. Here, we are lucky enough to have an organ with hand-bellows.
Here we have a tracker mechanism : a type of small wooden rods which activate the valves from the keyboard. Individually, this is quite simple. However, since organs often have two keyboards and about 30 stops, so two times 56 notes, plus the pedal and about 30 more stops… so that’s a lot of parts. To give you a better grasp, here we have 1.000 pipes. The Notre Dame de Paris organ has 10.000. »
Dominique Lasnier : « The second extremely important element is the organ’s console. You control the entire organ from the console. That is where organ-players select their registers, colours and keyboards, according to the instrument they’ll be playing here we have a 24-stop organ with 3 sound levels : one for your feet and two for your hands. The console has chords with specific names and numbers which match levels of frequency: the smaller the number, the higher the frequency – the higher the number, the deeper the frequency. The 16-foot gives us a very deep sound, the 2 or one-foot almost gives us an ultrasound.
The 16-foot makes this sound… The other extreme is the 2-foot, which is much more high-pitched. It’s quite interesting to combine both.
The second keyboard we have here is called an expressive keyboard. There’s one pedal at the foot of the console to control the volume. You don’t have to touch anything. The stops are simply closed in a crate equipped with a type of flap which you can open and close to control the volume. The ancestor of the volume button, in fact This second keyboard controls the organ stop details. That’s where you’ll find the oboe, and even human voices, and typical 19th century stops, invented by Cavaillé-Coll such as the gamba and celestial voice.
The first keyboard, the great organ keyboard, is the instrument’s most powerful keyboard. That’s where you’ll get the depths of the organ, the fullest stops and the large reeds. A 16-8-4 organ depth sounds like this… I can associate the keyboards or even the full stops, the reeds, trumpets and bugles. When they are played all together, it is extremely powerful.
The pedal board, which is the third keyboard, is for the base. It has its own stops which are played by foot. Generally, all the bases are played here, and sometimes there are reeds as well. You can also associate this pedal board with the other keyboards, giving an even more powerful effect.»

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