Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Versailles Palace Chapel

So far I have not included any churches from France! This example is special : the great chapel used by the Kings of France in their great palace at Versailles. I must have visited Versailles about six times and the tragedy is that this is one of the first rooms seen and is full of those ubiquitous umbrella-led groups. It is less of a bear garden than the the Sistine chapel though! Try a little of the video below to relive those chaotic moments!
                                                         See what I mean?!

For a detailed in depth description see the excellent article on Wikipedia here, It is the fifth such chapel. I had no idea! This present fifth chapel is a masterpiece by Jules Hardouin-Mansart begun in 1689 and consecrated in 1710. (This reminds me that Versailles must have been a building site much of Louis XIV'S reign : rather like the city of London now - different style of course).
Te Deums will have been sung here to celebrate victories and birth of children marriages, deaths etc.
Last year I saw advertised recreations of such performances : prices were astronomical and I regret I did not use Eurostar to Paris to attend! Therefore it is with pleasure that I am featuring some little videos to give the mood.

There is some nice atmosphere here. Watch a little to get the idea.Grand Dialogue by Louis Marchand played on the 1710 Cliquot organ


Now this is the real thing! Period instruments including a serpent recorded in the chapel, The famous Te Deum (Eurovision music) is very jolly! Chapelle Royale de Versailles, playing Marc Antoine CHARPENTIER, Te Deum, Conductor Martin Gester, Le Parlement de Musique. This is terrific!

Not in the Chapel but gives the idea of triumph superbly. What a super track. Just the thing to play through headphones to brighten up walks from the station!
Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1636 - 1704)
Marche de Triomphe et Second Air de Trompette in D major: 2. Second Air de Trompette" by Musica Antiqua Köln & Reinhard Goebel
Here is a Funeral March for Louis XIV. Never heard this before and makes up for not going over to Versailles!


This Cistercian house was founded in 1137 in a river valley of the river Kamp. It was extensive and only completed in 1218. by the end of the 14th century it was in danger and plundered several times.The most serious occasion was in 1426 when 4000 Hussites attacked and burnt it down. Rebuilit in the first half of the 15th century there were 40 monks again by the end of the century. The Protestant Reformation reduced the community to six. Again it recovered and the 17th and 18th century saw the abbey at its height. It continues to this day as a working Abbey.
There are buildings from Romanesque through Baroque and a major rebuild took place in the 18th century. The massive church tower was constructed  by Josef Munggenast. at 325 feet it is the highest tower of a Cistercian monastery.

The famous Egedacher organ dates from 1728-1731. The video below of the organ  is wonderful and means a lot to me, because I play sections myself of this very piece by Muffat! The difference is of course that I play an Allen compuer organ and this is the real authentic organ sound played by Martin Haselbock!

Martin Haselböck plays Toccata undecima by Georg Muffat.

The 1731 Johann Ignaz Egedacher organ in the monastery church of Zwettl is quite unique in that all of the manual pipework is in the case hanging on the gallery (Brustwerk), while the two main cases only contain the pedal pipes.
Egedacher built a three-manual organ , of which the third manual is quite unique in that it doesn’t contain any 8-foot flue stops. The reed stop Fagot/Huboa is in actual fact a type of Regal with very short wooden resonators.
In 1753 the organ was re-voiced and exactly 100 years later the tracker action was rebuilt. Josef Breinbauer revoiced the organ in 1880 and added a few Romantic stops. Rieger altered the organ again in 1912. Then in 1941 Ferninand Molzer built a new 3-manual electro-pneumatic organ which could be played from the Egedacher console. As this turned out not to be a success, the organ was dismantled in 1983 and Gerhard Hradetzky reconstructed the original specification, tracker action, wind system and temperament. Jürgen Ahrend revoiced the organ in 1991.

Hauptwerk: Principal 8', Copl 8', Gamba 8', Biforo 8', Octav 4', Holle-Fleten 4', Quint 3', Superoctav 2', Mixtur 6 fach, Cymbal 4 fach, Horn 4 fach.
Positiv: Copl 8', Principal 4', Rohr-Fletten 4', Superoctav 2', Duodecima 1 1/2', Cornettino 3 fach.
Drittes Clavir (disk): Fletten 4', Flaschaleth 2’, Cornetti 2 fach, Huboa 8'.
Drittes Clavir (baß), Flauthen-Paß 4', Flaschaleth 2', Schwegel 2 fach, Fagot 8'.
Pedal: Principal 16', Subpahs 16', Octav 8', Suboctav 4', Quint 3', Mixtur 6 fach, Cymbal 4 fach, Horn 2 fach, Bombardon 16', Posaun 8'.
Coupler: Hauptwerk – Positiv.
Manual compass: CDE-c3
Pedal compass: CDE-g
Temperament: meantone
Pitch: 465Hz

Zwettl was blessed with outstanding abbots in the 17th and 18th centuries. There was Abbot Link (1646-71), Caspar Bernhardt (1672-1695) who created the series of closed courtyards characteristic of urban Baroque style.The library has frescos by Paul Troger. The Abbot's lodging has white facades with pale yellow plaster. Abbot Melchior Zaunagg (1706-47 transformed the church, complete with massive retable above the high altar. He was responsible for bringing in the best painters, sculptors, stucco workers, cabinet makers, stained glass makers and fresco painters to decorate his church. The result is a wonderful combination of medieval and Baroque : a tribute to the collaboration  of Abbot Zaunagg with his architect Josef Munggenast and art adviser Mathias Steinl.
We visited with guided tour in 2008. 

Abbey church .Photo by Welsserstler on Flickr CC

Zwettle Abbey aerial view

Library. Photo by Welsserstler on Flickr CC

                                          General video about Zwettl with interesting section on the library