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Published on May 6, 2015
Since a recording of Ad nos is still available (Motette, 1993), I found it interesting to post extracts of a video in which one could also hear what happens at the console.
“On 29 October 1852, Franz Liszt’s great Fantasy & Fugue on the chorale ‘Ad nos, ad salutarem undam’ was premiered. In this work, about thirty minutes long, the registrations move from large ensembles to the intimate colours of solo stops, flutes, Hautbois, etc. Obviously, such manoeuvres turn out to be rather complex, or almost impossible, on an instrument with a hundred stops. Cavaillé-Coll therefore invented a new, more flexible stop-preparation system for the Saint-Sulpice organ: the two-way stop action system (tirage de jeux à double effet – a mechanical system using a Barker machine).
This system allows a means of preparing foundation stops in advance, in addition to the jeux de combinaison. The stops of a first registration are activated when the drawknobs corresponding to the various divisions (Pedal, Récit, Positif, Solo and Grand-Orgue/Grand-Choeur) have been pulled out. Pushing them back in sets the registration, allowing a second one to be prepared by assistants even as the organist continues to play. Pulling the drawknobs out again then activates the second registration, and pushing them back in then allows a third to be prepared, and so on. This system allows the organist to pass from the tutti to (for example) a selection of six stops from across all five manuals and the pedal, all within the blink of an eye – instantly, smoothly and without interruption”.
Extract from Daniel Roth & Pierre-François Dub-Attenti, “The Neoclassical Organ and the Great Aristide Cavaillé-Coll Organ of Saint-Sulpice, Paris”, Rhinegold Publishing Ltd, 2014 (expanded English translation of the article published in L'Orgue n°295-296/2011).