Guest Nigel ALLCOAT Posted January 25, 2006 Share Posted January 25, 2006 I have had an Email from member John Foss who played on this organ asking for some history and clarification. Notice of the Trombas on the organ came under a not too flattering Topic heading and so a new one I thought was more appropriate - as not one sound on the instrument is unmusical! I can offer a few observations about this heroic instrument which, by the Grace of God was not totally destroyed in the WW2. The buildings immediately to the South of the Church were and so this monumental church by J.L. Pearson - sometimes referred to as being the greatest church built in the 19th century anywhere in Europe - exists to this day and is cared for by a good-sized congregation and staff of clergy. This description of course embraces the furnishings and fittings - one of which is the early 1880's organ of Father Willis. On paper it does not look excessively big. But the frame and chamber is enormous. Other fittings in the church include incomparable sets of vestments (still in use of course - the Black Set being used for Dr Bennett's Requiem at New College, Oxford after the Crockford's debacle) and frontals. Glass, statues (even Lady Diana Duff-Cooper, the famed beauty modelled for Scott's statue of the BVM). The nearby Rothemeres lavished untold wealth - in money and jewels (woven into vestments and to adorn Chalices) to make it the most complete ensemble of any church in the Land. The architecture is just before Truro cathedral and is fully vaulted throughout. The organ still has the original Willis 4 manuals/keys with rounded sharps, but with a Harrison & Harrison console from a modernisation in the early part of the 1st WW. The 4th manual was never created but all stops and keyboard are there. There are a few other stops still prepared for after 125 years! A few changes were made by H & H. The action became pneumatic as I imagine that that of Willis was not so wonderful. A few pistons are to each manual. I think I am right in saying that H & H put on a 16' Double Trumpet - beautifully matched to the 8' & 4' Trumpet and Clairon. I always thought this division even more magnificent than St Paul's Cathedral. The Great reeds (2 reeds named Trombas 8' & 4') with a 16' prepared (just like so many H & H's) were obviously re-named at the time of the rebuild/moderisation and brought into the 'in house' sound and naming by the Durham company. The Swell Open 8' I believe still has the 2nd Open markings from the Gt and thus transposed within the organ. The Trombas sic had a lot of muck in them (around 1983) and so were brought back to the fantastic brilliance which they now display. The 4ft is in the bass, sensational! Lead and felt were somehow curtailing the musical enthusiasm of the pipes. Somebody has commented upon the Tierce Mixtures. These of course are indigenous things. To Quintify them would be a horror. They are totally in keeping with the original and to change them because of fad and fashion would be to completely change the DNA of such an instrument. Hands off! The Ophicleide on the Ped was sent up to Durham in my time for a full restoration. A number of pipes were suffering badly from fatigue and were therefore in need of immediate repair. Water from a badly draining roof has all but silenced all the Pedal. Only the Open Wood and Sub-bass are alone in providing gravitas now. One Corpus Christi Mass when Naji Hakim and his wife were attending I played something on the Claribel on the Gt - perhaps simulating in music the fluttering of rose petals. He made his way up to the loft immediately to ask what this incredible sound was. It still (with all the dirt and grime) is one of the most adorable sounds anywhere of this kind of stop. I still think it the best sound around for playing the slow movement of the GPS of Franck with the Clarinet coupled. (Just writing about it now makes me shiver). I hope that I live long enough to see this great instrument restored with pneumatics and no electric additional things, of course. The acoustic is fine and not excessive - perfect for Chant. The building is the most sympathetic to Db/C# major. One day all will be in a pristine state. The church was commissioned in 1871. John Norman's British Organs states the instrument was 1872. I think that this was an order date for the church was quite a time in being built. By the way - his spec there is correct except there is no 4' flute on the swell. Still prepared for. There has been a vast restoration project involving much of the church. The heating is next. The organ after that. Thankfully the authorities know the priorities and alas the great burden all too well. It is the largest 19th Cent church in London but is a national treasure. With all best wishes, NJA Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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