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Louis Vierne - Finale from the 1st organ symphony

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Published on Nov 14, 2008

The organ of the parish church of San Vincenzo Martire in Nole (near Torino, Italy) was built by G. Gandini in 1922 and placed on a monumental organ loft at the western wall of the church. In the years 1999-2003 the organ was restored and enlarged to three manuals and 45 stops. As organist of the church, I designed these works to enhance the symphonic characteristics of the original organ. In the first years after the restoration the organ received a number of appreciations from many organists, both in Italy and abroad. Unfortunately, the 15 November 2006 the high church tower suddenly collapsed, destroying forever the historical organ, together with half of the church. Reconstruction works are now underway, but many years will elapse before to rebuild such an organ.

I intended to publish some recordings featuring the destroyed instrument, but few recordings have been made in the few years after the restoration, most of them using low-quality equipment. So, I resolved to build a sort of virtual clone, using exogenous sound samples to reproduce as best as possible the original sound, still vivid in my memory.

As building blocks I chose the sound samples from Shirokuma's Notre Dame de Budapest (IMO, the best symphonic organ library available now), mixing them in many ways to obtain the main sound features of the destroyed organ. The new stops are managed by a computer program and can be played in real-time by an ordinary II/P electric organ console. Also the original ambience effect has been modelled (the church is not rebuilt yet!). The result seems quite satisfactory. Of course, the sound of reed stops is a bit too full and tuned, the ambience effect is perhaps too warm, and so on, but... it is only a virtual organ.

The clone is still at the experimental stage, but I was able to record some French-style Toccatas which I used to perform at Sunday Mass. The first example is the Vierne's Finale from the First Symphony, the glorious toccata-like movement that Vierne composed in one of the happiest periods of his tormented existence.

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