My wife Sheila accompanied me on this tour as page turner/assistant for the concerts as she had in 1982’s European tour. We landed and went to our hotel. Though the whole itinerary was arranged from train tickets, buses, connections, lodging, ground transport, etc., we had to make a connection with the Embassy first.
Asking for directions was a little daunting. On the phone, the Cultural Attaché was trying to direct me to the subway route to her offices. Though I had picked up a smattering of Portuguese from my Brazilian mother, she spoke South American Portuguese, a style more in tune with the northern Portuguese pronunciations. In the south of Portugal it’s a different story altogether. You might think you know how to pronounce a simple place name like “Sete Rios” as “se-te REE-ohss” because it looks like Spanish; in reality it sounds more like “Shutryoosh.” Yeah we had trouble finding that subway stop!
With a few days to spare before the first concert we went to the Lisbon Zoo (they had some pretty skinny bears there!), the waterfront and ultimately to the Cathedral (or Sé in Portuguese) to check out the organs.
As you peruse some of these images, here’s an idea of what those horizontal trumpets sound like. I’m playing Scarlatti’s harpsichord Sonata in C, K. 420. It works pretty well with this registration, as bold and crisp as you’d want to open and as cool as you’d like in the middle.
LISBON CATHEDRAL 1964/2012 Flentrop organ with Joseph Bertolozzi, 1985
When I sat down to play this instrument (the modern one that is), the custodian, who spoke no English and I almost no Portuguese, tried to help me by showing me how the organ worked. He pressed the combination pistons (which automatically pulls out the stops in various combinations). We smiled at each other and I nodded; of course I knew what the pistons did. He walked away evidently watching out of the corner of his eye, and when I then tried to pull out the stops by hand individually, he rushed back smiling to show me how the pistons worked again. I smiled and nodded again hoping to indicate that “yes I know they do that.” Well, he walked away again and I, who wanted to hear the stops individually, started to draw them out singly once again. He came back again with that smile that I now interpreted to mean “I’m being very patient with you; you’re only to draw the stops by piston and not by hand!” OK, then I got it! That was probably my last chance, but luckily I figured it out in time.
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