Maggie Hamilton

Radio France celebrates new organ

9:40, 18th May 2016

Maison Radio France’s new Grenzing organ was inaugurated over the weekend of 7-9 May with a series of events ranging from children’s narration and organ, recitals by rising stars, a concert for organ and ensemble, silent film accompaniment, and a grand recital by some of France’s top-name organists.

Opening on the Saturday morning with a ‘tale for comedian and organ’ (recited by Michel Vuillermoz, with Thomas Ospital at the organ), the event continued with a recital of French music by three young organists: David Cassan (who won the Improvisation competition in St Albans in 2015), Coralie Amedjkane, and Guillaume Nussbaum. On the Sunday, Freddy Eichelberger was joined by Ensemble Aromates in a programme of transcriptions of orchestral works, followed in the evening by Juan de la Rubia, from Barcelona’s Sagrada Família, improvising to the 1922 silent film Nosferatu.

_ABR3391 compressRetouchThe official inaugural recital, at 8pm on 9 May and broadcast live, featured Michel Bouvard (J.S. Bach C minor Passacaglia & Fugue BWV 582), François Espinasse (Messiaen’s ‘Les oiseaux et les sources’, from Messe de la Pentecôte, and Bernard Foccroulle’s E più corusco il sole), Jean-Pierre Leguay (two pieces for mechanical organ: Beethoven’s Adagio from his Suite, and Mozart’s Fantasia in F minor, plus a valedictory improvisation), a stirring improvisation from Thierry Escaich on themes from Stravinsky’s Firebird, and culminating in the composer’s version of The rite of spring for four hands, performed by Olivier Latry and Shin-Young Lee.

The IV/87 Grenzing organ is just the third concert hall organ to be built in France, the other two being in the Maurice Ravel Hall in Lyon, and the Paris Philharmonie, where the new Rieger was inaugurated in February this year. It represents the apex of a process dating back to a call for tenders in 2008, after which the contract was award to Gerhard Grenzing the following year. The organ committee (those performing on 9 May, with the exception of Lee) worked in close partnership with Grenzing and his team throughout. The façade was designed in collaboration with the architects (Architect Studio) to integrate into the Hall’s overall aspect. The instrument has suspended tracker action on the mechanical console; the second, mobile, console allows the organist to select the order of the manuals and the key depth. Both consoles may be played at the same time.

In March this year, Thomas Ospital was appointed the first organist-in-residence at Maison Radio France.

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