This group of organists have been traveling and looking at the best new and very old pipe organs in Spain. We arrived in San Sbastian, Spain to see some of the significant pipe organs in this city. It was Pentecost Sunday and I had hoped to hear some terrific church music in Spain, well I’ll leave that one alone. My liturgical joy was some Durufle. The first organ we heard was at the Church of Saint Vincent which has a Cavaille-Coll that was restored in 2000.
Our local organ expert told us about some rivalry with Cavaille-Coll’s principal competitor, Puget. He rebuilt the organ in 1893 and did not have kind things to say about Cavaille-Coll. But then Cavaille-Coll’s successor, Mutin rebuilt the Puget and I guess got the last laugh.
From there we walked to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro. Loreto Armendi and her husband warmly greeted us. This organ has had minor alterations and it is largely as Cavaille-Coll left it in 1863. This organ is an exact copy of the organ that Ceasar Franck’s used to play at Saint Clotilde before it was changed numerous times including its rebuild under the current organist. It follows the tradition in Spain to locate it to one side of the choir. The stops are measured in palms instead of feet. This organ is in need of restoration, which is being organized. Learn more about this pipe organ.
Our next church was San Ignatius of Loyola in San Sebastian. Mass was just ending as the group got there. The organist Gerardo Rifon played the Bach Saint Anne Fugue as the postlude and it sounded fantastic and was very well played. We learned the organ was built by Walcker Organ for the church in 1914. Romanus Seifert of Kevelaer recently restored it. The organ has 30 stops on two manuals. The workmanship is excellent, what is striking is the high proportion of reeds on the organ; the reeds are of a French design though they were made in Germany. Also what is very interesting is that Walcker stopped making tracker action organs in the 1890s and this organ has “tracker action” between the console and the cone windchests. With this kinds of windchest you can have a tracker action and never lose wind like in a normal pallet windchest.
After we had a traditional “cider” dinner. It was just too much food. It was all you could drink cider, wine and a Spanish kind of champagne. It was a terrific dinner with friends.