Puget Nameplate KINCOPPAL - ROSE BAY
School of the Sacred Heart
New South Head Road, Rose Bay, Sydney
NSW 2029

Tel: +61 2 9388 6000
Email: annhenderson@optusnet.com.au
Return to HOMEPAGE

"Andrew Grahame"
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 music.

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
About Michel Colin (english) A propos de Michel Colin (français)

Andrew Grahame
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.