St. Maximin, France

Jean Esprit Isnard organ (1775) - St. Maximin, Provence

Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

The town of Saint Maximin was the centre of early Christianity in Provence and, more broadly, in France. The monumental royal basilica was raised by Charles II d'Anjou to the honor and glory of Mary Magdalene. According to ancient and venerable tradition this lady, well known from the Gospels, came to Provence to preach the Good News, obeying the Jesus' command "Go forth and preach the Gospel to all nations...". After many fruitful years, she died and was buried where the basilica stands today - at the place where Saint Maximin, the first bishop of Aix-en-Provence raised an oratory. After the holy reliquiae of St. Mary Magdalene were found in 1279, the present basilica and the adjacent Dominican convent were constructed in 1295-1296. Her tomb became a place of pilgrimage, and the reliquary with the scull of St. Mary Magdalene can still be venerated in the crypt of the basilica today.

The basilica itself is said to be the tallest in Provence at 33 meters, and it houses many treasures and pieces of art that attest to its history. Among these is the the large and magnificent "double sixteen feet" organ built by friar Jean-Esprit Isnard and his nephew Joseph in 1772-1775. The organ is located in the western gallery above the main entrance. It is one of very few French historical organs that miraculously survived the French revolution. Legend says that when the revolutionaries came to the basilica to destroy its furniture including the organ, the organist of that time, Mr. Forcade, played the revolutionary song "Marseillaise" in front of the revolutionary authorities. It saved the organ from demolition. However, the Dominicans were expelled and the place lost its importance for some time due to the secularisation of the French republic. However, being "just another organ" in a small countryside village during the 19th century, it was fortunately saved from all the modernising tendencies of that time.

As the result, this organ remains one of the few large French instruments in which the original material made by Isnard is preserved in its entirety: 2960 pipes, except that the original wooden pipes (the bass octaves of the bourdons) are used for display only, since they were replaced with metal bourdon pipes during the last reconstruction.

The last overhaul of the organ was done in 1986-1991 by M. Yves Chabourdin.

We owe deep gratitude to the authorities concerned with the St. Maximin organ: Mr. Gabriel Rinaudo, Madame Véronique Guérin, Mr. Pierre Bardon, former titulaire de l'orgue, Mr. Bridonneau, Jean-Jacques Le Coz and Francois Blonay.

Further reading:

  • Les Grandes Orgues. Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Baume. Edisud: Aix-en-Provence, 2000.
  • Michel Moncault: The Basilica Saint Mary-Magdalene and the Royal Convent. Edisud: Aix-en-Provence, 2003.
  • J. R. Cain - R. Martin - J. M. Sanchez: Les Isnard. Une révolution dans la facture d'orgues. Edisud: Aix-en-Provence, 1991.

Registration tips for the French baroque music by Patrique Larhant.

 

Features and Screenshots

Features

  • 4-manual French classical instrument. Composition: Grand Orgue, Positif, Récit, Raisonnance, Pedal.
  • The Raisonnance division is used as a complement to the Grand Orgue. It provides it with the Bombard division (Bombarde 16', 2 Trumpets 8', Clairon 4') and Flutes (16', 8', 4'). These stops are also shared to the pedal division. In addition, solo stops are present on the Raisonnance as a kind of a second Récit: Trumpet en chamade, Flute and Cornet.
  • The instrument offers unusual number of reed stops. There are 14 reed stops out of 43!
  • This organ has unusual voicing where a kind of complementarity can be observed. The reed stops have a common feature of being weak towards the top of the compass. This is a natural phenomenon. To complement this, the flue stops are attenuated towards the bottom while they are brilliant at the top of the compass, so a kind of ballance with reeds is achieved. Nevertheless, the organ would benefit from a revision of the voicing of many flue pipes. A number of pipes had to be digitally corrected.

Virtual Console (Hauptwerk)

  • Hauptwerk v.4.2 and newer versions supported (incl. HW5, 6 and further versions).
  • The samples 24 bit depth and 48 kHz resolution.
  • Reverberation up to 7 seconds.
  • The virtual console fits into 1280 x 1024 px screen resolution. Split stop jambs available in horizontal and vertical orientation.
  • Temperament chart provided featuring the proprietary St. Maximin tuning (5th comma mean tone modified).
  • 14 generals (combination) pistons added to facilitate user registration.
  • Surround mixer available, including the pipe coupling, pipe detune and fine mixture tuning features. Test the demo version to hear the features in action.

RAM consumption:

  • Original version, fully loaded in surround, 16-bit: 9.7 GB
  • Original version, loaded fully in wet only, 16-bit: 5.1 GB
  • Extended version, fully loaded in surround, 16-bit: 12.2 GB
  • Extended version, fully loaded in wet only, 16-bit: 5.8 GB

Specification - Original Version ODF

I. Positif

Montre 8' Nasard 2 2/3' Trompette 8'
Bourdon 8' Tierce 1 3/5' Cromorne 8'
Flute 8' L'Arigot 1 1/3' Clairon 4'
Prestant 4' Dessus de Cornet V  
Doublette 2' Fourniture III Tremblant doux
Quarte de Nasard 2' Cymbale III  

 

II. Grand Orgue

Montre 16' Grand Nasard 5 1/3' Trompete 8'
Bourdon 16' Grande Tierce 3 1/5' Dessus de Trompete 8' (en chamade)
Montre 8' Dessus de Cornet V Voix humaine 8'
Bourdon 8' Grande Fourniture II Clairon 4'
Prestant 4' Petite Fourniture IV  
  Cymbale IV Tremblant fort

 

III. Raisonnance

Flute 16' (descant only stops)
Flute 8' Dessus de Flute 8'
Flute 4' Dessus de Trompete 8' (en chamade)
Bombarde 16' Dessus de Cornet V
1ere Trompette 8'  
2e Trompette 8'  
Clairon 4'  
  Tremblant fort

 

IV. Récit

Cornet V  
Trompette 8'  
Hautbois 8' Tremblant fort

 

Pedal (hard coupled to Raisonnance)

Flute 16' (all the stops borrowed from the Raisonnance)
Flute 8'  
Flute 4'  
Bombarde 16'  
1ere Trompette 8'  
2e Trompette 8'  
Clairon 4'  
   

The Ist, IInd, and III.rd manuals may be upwards-coupled together by dragging the keyboard one over another.


Specification - Extended Version ODF

I. Positif

Montre 8' Nasard 2 2/3' Trompette 8'
Bourdon 8' Tierce 1 3/5' Cromorne 8'
Flute 4' (according to the original contract with fr. Isnard in 1772) L'Arigot 1 1/3' Clairon 4'
Prestant 4'    
Doublette 2' Dessus de Cornet V  
Quarte de Nasard 2' Fourniture III Tremblant doux
  Cymbale III  

 

II. Grand Orgue

Montre 16' Grand Nazard 5 1/3' Trompete 8'
Bourdon 16' Grande Tierce 3 1/5' Dessus de Trompete 8' (en chamade)
Montre 8' Dessus de Cornet V Voix humaine 8'
Bourdon 8' Grande Fourniture V Clairon 4'
Prestant 4' Petite Fourniture II  
  Cymbale IV  
    Tremblant fort

 

III. Raisonnance

Flute 16' (descant only stops)
Flute 8' Dessus de Flute 8'
Flute 4' Dessus de Trompete 8' (en chamade)
Bombarde 16' Dessus de Cornet V
1ere Trompette 8'  
2e Trompette 8'  
Clairon 4'  
  Tremblant fort

IV. Récit

Cornet V  
Trompette 8'  
Hautbois 8' Tremblant fort

 Pedal

Flute 16' Bombarde 16'
Flute 8' 1ere Trompette 8'
Flute 4' 2e Trompette 8'
Dessus de Cornet V Clairon 4'

A lot of intramanual couplers added.

 


 

 

Screenshots

 

 

Console view:

This is the general console view. It serves to define the keyboard MIDI inputs for all the divisions. The active part of this view are the manuals, and the pedal. The stop buttons are also active. Specifying the MIDI inputs is done by right-clicking on the desired manual or pedal.

 

 

 

Mixer view:

The virtual listening position is adjusted here. Dragging the sliders downwards means to mute the mic perspective, dragging them up is making it louder. The mixer settings can be stored, retrieved, reset. 3 different mixer settings can be stored/recalled any time. The controls on the right:
1.) The blower switch should be always on. When off, the wind to the organ will stop and there will be no sound.
2.) Pipe coupling serves to adjust the amount of "chorus effect". Higher slider position gives more overall mistuning to the organ pipes, possibly giving rich and tasteful organ sound. Lowest position of the slider offers the organ perfectly in tune instead (especially when combined with Hauptwerk Temperament charts).
3.) Pipe detune - sets the overall mistuning o pipes. In the minimum position, the organ is exactly in tune (when some Hauptwerk temperament chart is used).
4.) Mixtures fine tuning: toggle between the recorded natural mixture sound which is usually somewhat beating, and perfectly tuned mixtures.

 

 

 

 

Stops view:

All stops of the instrument can be accessed from a single screen. Each stop can be MIDI-learned by right click. The console screen of the original version on the left, the extended version on the right.

 

 

 

Left+Right Jambs view (extended):

All the stops and other controls of the organ can be found also here. The layout for dual touch screens. The design allows for portrait or landscape orientation, according to the orientation of the touch screens.

 

 

 

Left + Right Jambs Vertical view (extended):

the dual stop jambs offer vertical (portrait) orientation as an alternative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left+Right Jambs view:

The extended version has the dual stop jambs, too, in the landscape and portrait orientation.

 

 

 

Left + Right Jambs Vertical view:

portrait orientation of the extended version dual stop jamb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updates

Version 2.23 ODF. Mixtures Fine Tuning switch position is remembered after re-loading. This patch should be installed on top of the v 2.21 existing installation.

Version 2.21 downloadable from the user area 'My Products". It is a full installation (complete sample set to be reinstalled).

  1. St. Maximin Surround Sample Set v. 2.21

    St. Maximin organ model, Surround variant. No encryption.Minimum Hauptwerk version: 4.2. (Also works in all higher versions.)

    €400.00

    Excl. Tax

    Detail & order

  2. St. Maximin Surround Demo

    St. Maximin organ model, Demo sample set. Surround variant, version 2.21. No encryption, plain wave format. Suitable for Hauptwerk 4.2 and higher versions.
    Price: Excl. Tax: €0.00 Incl. Tax *: €0.00 Excl. Tax

    Detail & order

  3. BUNDLE St. Maximin - Caen

    St. Maximin - Caen Surround.
    €793.05 Excl. Tax

    Detail & order

    Original price: (excl. tax)€933.00
    Bundle sale (15%):
    - €139.95