More Sylvestrinas here ...
...in a ravishing acoustic. Fantastic !
Jump to content
Posted 07 June 2016 - 08:00 PM
Yes, of course! I had forgotten about St. John, Beckenham. Willis was very pleased with this one and Sam Clutton (I think) waxed lyrical about it in "The Organ". If I remember rightly, he was particularly enthusiastic about the Cornet, which he said would do practically everything except make the tea.
Stowmarket URC (1953), another small Willis III in a very good acoustic, has a Sylvestrina, but the undulating stop is called Voix Celeste and is (or was) prepared for only. this instrument had a good write-up from Andrew Hayden in "Choir and Organ" fairly recently.
Posted 08 June 2016 - 03:53 PM
Yes, David, you are quite right. There was a substantial article in The Organ and I think the instrument was probably used as a 'demonstrator' for potential clients.
It also had a Willis Infinite Gradation Swell engine, long since disconnected ! Let's not get started on that...!
Posted 17 June 2016 - 12:30 PM
I have been wondering about something I read recently about drawing diapasons and flutes together, and hope that someone may be able to provide an explanation. Going through some ancient things in The Musical Times, I came across a letter to the editor in vol. 77 no. 1120 (June 1936), written by Henry Willis III in which he stated as follows at p. 543:
"It can be laid down in the most definite manner that Harmonic Flutes do not blend with Diapasons, that any open flutes are undesirable, but that correctly voiced Stopped Flutes are capable of successful combination. Why? The reason is simple. Open flutes have various upper partials present in varied order of prominence: many, when developed in a flute, are inimical to those of a Diapason, With a Stopped Flute the odd numbered partials only are present, and the blending power is correct." (Emphasis original.)
Now, the only Willis instrument of any size that I've ever had any opportunity to play had both a Claribel Flute 8' and Harmonic Flute 4' on the Great Organ, and I recall that the lack of blend was particularly noticeable if the Harmonic Flute were drawn. So HWIII certainly seems to have been spot-on in relation to his own firm's instruments.
On the other hand, not too long ago I had the opportunity to have a go on an acquaintance's H******** installation - surely I dare not even name the digital beast on a forum devoted to the pipe organ! - but it did at least provide something of a context to HWIII's comments insofar that it included a virtual reproduction of a French romantic instrument which has, on the Grand-Orgue, jeux de fond comprising a Bourdon 16', Montre 8', Flûte Harmonique 8', Bourdon 8', Gambe 8' and Prestant 4'; the Récit Expressif included a Diapason 8 as well as a family of Flûtes Harmoniques at 8', 4' and 2'. To my ears, virtually any combination of these seemed to blend well. Now, I realize that a French Montre is not an English Diapason, but it does cause me to wonder if the blend, or lack thereof, is strictly a matter of upper partials, or if there is in fact more to the question. Any comments?
By the way, in the same letter HWIII went on to state:
"Myself, I regard the presence of flutes on the Great Organ of a three-manual instrument with any pretence to an adequate scheme as out of place: on the Swell, Choir, and Solo, yes; on the Great, no. The Great Chorus should be a pure Diapason structure, capped, if the size of the instrument permits, by the Chorus Reed or reeds."
As I say, I have only limited direct experience of Willis instruments, but I have never come across one in all my recordings or in reading about them which had a Great Organ consisting solely of diapasons and reeds. Hmmm...
Dear MJFarr - I think you make the point very well. A lot of the success of whether Open Flutes and Open Diapasons go together depends on the voicing and treatment of the pipes. I would suggest it is perhaps unhelpful to try to define hard and fast rules as it imposes entirely arbitrary self-imposed strictures, the value of which I don't really see; although I can see HWIII's attempts are probably borne out of his own experience. Perhaps this has something to say and influence how we should approach and register on his organs?
The closest to a 3 manual HWIII instrument with solely Open Diapasons and reeds on the Great organ I can think of is St Marys in Southampton City Centre (see http://www.npor.org.....html?RI=N11630). It only really has a Gedeckt on the Great, which had quickly supplanted a Claribel. The 4ft Gemshorn is really a small Principal, somewhere between the ODII and ODIII if I recall correctly. As such the division only really provides a variety of Diapason tonalities at various levels of power and pitch (none of which quite go together) and a battery of chorus reeds. If one wants to engage with flutes, strings and orchestral reeds, one has to use the Choir and Swell divisions, except for the lone Gedeckt on the Great Organ, which is a curious outlier with mere solo possibilities in combination with the other Great stops. The Gedeckt could just as easily be on the Choir Organ.
I do question the value of such a sharp delineation of tonalities across the divisions. I would have thought a more varied distribution could make for a more usable instrument (for example if you want to play an imitative reed off a flute and a string on different divisions as some kind of 3 way dialogue) and perhaps make a more intriguing and flexible instrument to discover. A nice example is the Richards Fowkes at St Geroge's Hannover Square, which has imitative solo possibilities on all three manuals - the classical distribution of its fabulous imitative reeds; Great Fagott, Choir Dulciaan and Swell Oboe being one example of many on this organ. Another example would be Harrison & Harrison's incomparable early masterpiece at All Saints' Tooting. Although it is 2/3 the size of St Marys Southampton and a similar style of organ, it has far more variety of nuanced colours and possibilities through careful planning and design.
Posted 19 June 2016 - 04:16 AM
Thank you, Colin - I don't know the St Mary's, Southampton instrument at all, so was quite unaware of the disposition of its Great Organ.
In a rather loose way, I suppose that one could say that Willis III's diapasons and reeds only Great Organ "tonal ideal" is fulfilled in the Great 1st Division at Westminster Cathedral. But of course the full resources of the Great include the Flutes at 16'. 8' and 4' on the 2nd Division; and in any case, wasn't it the Harrison firm rather than Willis which divided the Great there?
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users