Christophe Moucherel | Cathédrale Saint-Just-et-Saint-Pasteur . Narbonne [France]

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Photography by “Ortrun-L-S”
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The Narbonne organ was built by Christophe Moucherel from 1739 to 1741. The cathedral construction was stopped before conclusion, as it was necessary to demolish some of the fortification walls of the city in order to finish the construction works, a decision that was refused by the city administrators. Because of this impossibility of continuing the cathedral construction, a closing wall was built and the organ was suspended on that wall, instead of being built over a proper loft on the end wall of the cathedral.

The organ built by Moucherel, although beautiful had significant problems in the traction and wind systems, being almost completely rebuilt by Jean-François Lépine from 1766 to 1770. In 1793 the organ is saved from the French Revolution destruction by playing patriotic hymns, as happened in several organs throughout France. After revolution, in 1833, transformations are carried by Loiselot, with changes in wind system and organ sections, removing the Écho section. In 1840 the case is classified as “Monument historique”.

From 1843 to 1844 the organ is again modified, this time by Augustin Zeiger, following a more romantic taste. However the intervention had poor quality and the instrument quickly becomes unusable. It is modified again by Théodore Puget from 1856 to 1858, including the addition of new registers and changes in existing pipework, changes in bellows and addition of a new Barker traction system on the Grand Orgue.

In 1910 a fire breaks out in the cathedral and, although only the choir organ is destroyed, the main organ suffers from the excessive heat. On the repair works a new pneumatic system is installed.

Already on the end of the 20th century, from 1982 to 1993, an extensive repair work is carried by Bertyl Soutoul, where all the organ is revised, the Positif de Dos is put back into a good operating condition and all the traction is electrified, substituting the former pneumatic system.

The organ loft base is decorated with vegetal motives and a medallion of the Chapter of Canons. The Positif de Dos case is also surrounded by floral motives, with two heads decorating the bottom of the two largest towers and five angels on the top of the towers. The central angel seems to be conducting the other angels which, in turn, appear to be playing bassoon, flute, shawm and serpent (from left to right).

The Grand Orgue case has an unusually high base, increasing its height and adapting better the proportions of the case to the space of the cathedral. This bottom part of the main case is decorated with two large panels, one on each side of the console, containing several instruments such as lute, harp, shawns, panpipe flute, violin, flutes, lyre, viola da gamba, natural horn and serpent. The pipework part of the case is visually supported by two atlantes, one on each side, where the left one holds the case with both hands and the right one delicately holds the case with just one hand, holding the drapery with the other hand.

The top of the organ is crowned with scultptures, with angels playing trumpet on the extremes, Notre Dame de l’Assomption on the center, and Saint Just and Saint Pasteur flanking the central scultpture, each one holding the martyr’s palm. Each of the angels on the lateral towers hold also a parchment with the phrases “Laudate Dominum in sono tubae” and “Laudate eum in chordis et organo”.

 

1739-1741 – organ construction
1766-1770 – organ reconstruction by Jean-François Lépine
1833 – organ changes by Loiselot
1843-1844 – organ changes by Augustin Zeiger
1856-1858 – organ changes by Théodore Puget
1982-1993 – organ repairs by Bertyl Soutoul
2001 – addition of a combination system

 

Positif de dos Grand Orgue Positif expressif Récit expressif Pédale
Montre 8′ Bourdon 16′ Bourdon 8′ Bourdon 16′ Bourdon 16′
Bourdon 8′ Montre 16′ Unda Maris 8′ Flûte harmonique 8′ Flûte 16′
Prestant 4′ Bourdon 8′ Flûte 4′ Gambe 8′ Principal 16′
Doublette 2′ Montre 8′ Salicional 8′ Voix Céleste 8′ Bourdon 8′
Quarte de Nazard 2’ Flûte harmonique 8′ Doublette 2′ Flûte 4′ Flûte 8′
Nazard 2 2/3’ Salicional 8′ Nazard 2 2/3’ Octavin 2′ Principal 8′
Tierce 1 3/5’ Prestant 4′ Tierce 1 3/5’ Cornet V Flûte 4′
Larigot 1 1/3’ Flûte4′ Plein jeu IV Bombarde 16′ Principal 4′
Fournitures III Doublette 2′ Trompette 8′ Trompette 8′ Quinte 10 2/4’
Cymbale III Piccolo 1′ Musette 8′ Clairon 4′ Contre Bombarde 32′
Trompette 8′ Grosse tierce 3 1/5’ Clairon 4′ Voix humaine 8′ Bombarde 16′
Cromorne 8′ Cornet V Basson-Hautbois 8′ Trompette 8′
Clairon 4′ Fournitures V Clairon 4′
Cymbale III
Bombarde 16′
Trompette 8′
Clairon 4′
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