Organ Music Presenter, 2MBS-FM, Sydney's Fine Music Station
Orchestration is the art of choosing the right instrumental sounds to
suit different musical textures. The equivalent concept in the organ
world is REGISTRATION – choosing the right organ stops to suit
The link between tone colour and musical texture within the organ’s
repertoire is vital, yet some composers left little or no overt evidence
of their music’s registration requirements. Bach, for example,
gave only limited indications of which stops to use in his music, and
then only as general suggestions. Even though the majority of Australian
organs are not designed in strict accordance with the Baroque North
German tonal palette, acceptable performances of Bach’s music
is still possible on many of them.
By contrast, French organ music has for centuries maintained a powerful
partnership between organ timbres and musical textures, combining them
in ways which are highly specific to the point of being proscriptive.
This colourful, vibrant music can’t be adequately appreciated
without the right registrations. To play French organ music using inappropriate
sounds can be likened to using a chisel as a screwdriver - the wrong
tool for the job.
In the Baroque period the title of a French organ work foreshadowed
both the texture of the music and the sounds upon which it must be performed,
and organs were built according to these needs. Into the Romantic period
this link between organ tonal design and composition further developed
to the point where French composers marked registrations on their scores
in precise detail, confident in the knowledge that a performer could
readily find the required tone colours in the organs of the day.
The first organs in Australia came from England, so it’s not surprising
that indigenous organ building initially followed the English style.
Although instruments have since been imported from many other countries
and the work of local organ builders has encompassed a wider range of
styles, organs of the French school have always been under-represented
on these shores. Despite the high international profile of this substantial
branch of the organ’s repertoire and its long-standing popularity
with Australian organists and audiences, only a handful of organs in
this country offer the authentic registrations needed for the stylistically
correct interpretation of this stimulating music. The Puget organ of
1890 at Rose Bay is one such instrument, and its significance in the
Australian organ music scene cannot be overstated.
Review of recital by Michel Colin 12 January 2007
and Private Performance at Sydney Town Hall on 14 January, 2007
A propos de Michel Colin
Presenter of "Colours of the King" - the monthly broadcast
of the Organ Music Society of Sydney - on Sydney's Fine Music Station
2MBS-FM (102.5) - 2nd Saturday each month at 5 pm.