by Jean-Marc Cicchero
Breaking through mechanical and tonal barriers, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll built organs that vastly changed the world of organ composition as it developed in the Romantic era. His innovations brought new controls to the organ's tonal pallette, and tremendous changes in the pallette, itself. This beautiful, 150-page book exists to update this organ builder's history and that of his successors, correcting misinformation published previously, and especially delving into the organs built after Cavaillé-Coll's death in 1899. Vastly illustrated with almost all images in full color, the book also describes the painstaking craftsmanship employed in building every organ produced, from the smaller salon organs and even the early reed organs, to the huge landmark organs that turned the tide of organ composition by the likes of Cesar Franck, Charles-Marie Widor, Louis Vierne, and many more. The author surprisingly tells us that the very last organ to legally bear a Cavaillé-Coll nameplate was built and installed in 1951, though the firm itself stopped making organs in 1936. He describes how the nameplates were made, changes in the methods of their production over time, and shows us photographs of a great many of them. These facts help to accurately date organs when coupled with careful descriptions (as provided by the author) of changes over time in various characteristics such as pitch, key compass (manual and pedal), drawknob shape and deployment, nomenclature, etc. The author discusses the opus numbers and dates as well as aspects and devices as they were introduced, including chamade reeds, amphitheatre consoles, etc. Though the text is in French, the book is supplied with a separately-bound group of pages in a very good English translation. Of the same shape as the book, the sheathe of English text in 26 pages fits neatly within the book. Approximately 9 x 12 inches.