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Église Abbatiale Saint-Étienne de Caen

It was an absolute revelation hearing Thomas Trotter playing some of my organ music during his superb recital in Caen's Abbaye-aux-Hommes on the historic Cavaillé Coll instrument there. That's my idea of a French sound, which I picked up in my teens listening to LPs of Messiaen playing his own music in Sainte-Trinité, Paris, on a comparable organ. It has been an inspiration ever since, thanks to which I've continued to try and write organ music - even though it can sometimes be a complicated and even confusing instrument for those of us who never learned to play it.


Thomas's recital was titled Entente Cordiale, a subtle homage to the D-Day commemorations springing up around us. Knowing that Caen had been absolutely pulverised during those early days of the invasion (during which many of the townspeople sought shelter in the Abbey vaults) it's wonderful that the city has retained so many ancient churches and a fine old town centre. My trip home from Normandy was also thought provoking; travelling by sea, setting off past Sword Beach and ending in a tour of Portsmouth harbour (a slow one, thanks to many navy warships massing in the narrow channels.)






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