Guest firstname.lastname@example.org Posted August 7, 2005 Share Posted August 7, 2005 Of course we all know of several widely-acclaimed organs by HW - even if not everyone agrees on exactly which ones are greatest. I have suspicions about some of them not being tonally 'as originally intended' any more, and recently posted one of the reasons why I personally do not regard Truro as a typical work. For various reasons Lincoln would be another such. I hope that those responding to this topic will add their favourites rather than their fondest moans amd that favourites (ideally) would only include instruments they have actually heard 'in the flesh'. Sadly - or maybe fortunately (since I am on the firinges of the recording business) the microphone sometimes does not tell the whole truth! To start the ball rolling, here are a few Willis instruments that I believe sound as intended - my only authority for saying so (because I have not set foot inside any of them) is that they very clearly share the same ideals in terms of balance, pallette available and effectiveness in the building. Blenheim Palace - there will be moans from some who didn't/don't like the fact that a small firm (of whom they may not approve) has been carrying out partial restoration over several years. Situated in a poor acoustic and with the usual problems from over-heating/occasional complete shut-down of heating - this is still a stunning organ with (I ven ture to suggest) one of the best solo Tubas ever made - A shaft of gold! In case this comment makes me look like a total power-crazed-fiend, the soft stuff is exceptional too. Union Chapel, Islington - in a tatty state in a (sadly) under-used and not easily accessible building. The organ was rebuilt in a very limited way (maybe 80 years ago) by Monk and Gunther (a small East London outfit) which gave it some action revisions and a Choir Swellbox. But just play it - ignoring the odd infelicities if you can (bakelite panels behind the original HW1 drawstops, worn action and [maybe still] rough tuning). They have the finest Swell Trumpet in the world. .....Well, (cynics will winge!)..... the finest Swell Trumpet I have ever heard, in any country, by any builder. No.3 (small 2-decker) - I wish I knew the name of the place - maybe research on NPOR will bring it up, but Martin Monkman of Amphion took me three weeks ago to an untouched two-manual organ in the wilds of North Yorkshire. Great had 184.108.40.206.4.2 Swell had 220.127.116.11 and Pedal had 16 Bourdon, of course. This looks like nothing on paper, and we've all sat down at similar-sized jobs and come away disappointed less than half an hour later! Well, in the flesh it was like the Willis-on-wheels at St.Paul's. The full Swell was absolutely startling - I swear that organ could play virtually everything - including any reasonable liturgical job, which, let us remember, is what the church or the donor paid for! No name plate, but HW1 in every note! I'll add to this little list myself as time goes on. Those who don't care for Willis instruments will tell you that their organs were mass-produced and I am prepared to accept that this could well be the case. However, if the resulting organs are 'mass-produced' they certainly don't sound like it. If Henry and George Willis (and the later Henrys and Vincent) came up with solutions to common voicing problems, who can blame them from exploiting these to their commercial benefit. Actually, one should add, I don't think they ever made much money - but they sure kept busy! There were always some who didn't like the Willis style. I certainly wouldn't want to have all large organs limited to this concept, but if you approach these instruments with an open mind you have to admit that a sterling result was regularly achieved. What higer praise can one give to a firm? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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