There are two versions :
The first one with Laurenskerk Marcussen
The second one (FROM 8’15’’) at Caen
Henri Carol was a priest, organist of Monaco’s cathedral until his death in 1974. He wrote several pieces that have (IMHO) a nice simplicity, a direct charm and beautiful harmonies.
This one is made of 8 variations on a Noel vellave (vellave means « from Velay », a part of France located southwest of Lyon). One can hear :
- 0’ : the theme, a quiet and haunting traditional Christmas song ;
- 30 ‘’ : variation 1 song on a reed accompanied by whirling flutes
- 1’10’’ : variation 2, quick arpeggios on flutes 8-2 (the stars in Christmas sky ?)
- 1’30’’ : var 3 : a kind of ardent and a bit anguished imploration on foundations 8’
-2’45’’ : var 4 : a playful 2,5 voices invention on bourdon 8, flute 2 and cymbale
- 3’15 : var 5 : marked « as a saeta », A saeta is a kind of vehement recitative sung during religious processions in Spain ; here, augmented 2nds effectively take us to Spain.
- 4’50 : var 6 : a fanfare on reeds, The prescribed registration is « reeds 8-4, prestants, cornets », ie the recipe of a french grand-jeu from the 17h-18th period
-5’40 : var 7 : a serene meditation on undulating stops, constrating with the anguished variation 3 ;
- 7’15 : var 8, a brief toccatina on tutti without 16’.
Carol asked for the clear and light textures of the french eclectic organs which were fashionable in France during the period 1945-1970. So the Marcussen works well here. Nevertheless, I wanted to have a try with a Cavaillé-Coll tone, less transparent but warmer ; and it was also the opportunity to use the unda maris required by the score for var 7. IMHO, it works globally better on the Marcussen, but everybody can disagree ☺. In fact, it depends on each variation , and on the personal taste.