Tonal aesthetic

Tonal Aesthetic

Lewis was a firm believer in the romantic organ in the classical tradition: a personal synthesis of modern German and French tonalities within an English framework. Lewis's organs achieve a grandeur of effect that not all can admire but which possesses a musica integrity of its own.

His organs are known for their powerful bell-like choruses, delicious flutes, prompt Pedal basses and crisp, bright low-pressure reeds. Lewis's view of fluework balance was exactly that familiar in France and Germany: basses were kept modest in power but clear in tone. In his organs the flue-work (Diapason chorus) always dominated the reeds, in classic German/English tradition, while the Trumpets added colour to the ensemble, giving a free, splashy sound, but avoiding the devasting power characteristic of Cavaillé-Coll.

This organ proves a textbook exposition of those characteristics.

The instrument possesses a good variety of beautiful quiet stops including some notable families of flutes. The flutes are varied to a degree – more so than one would found in a Father Willis; the Claribel sounds mellow like a Solo-stop, while the Choir 4ft Traverso has a luscious richness and a Cavaillé-Coll-like crescendo in the treble. The string voicing is assured and as varied in character, especially in a dialog between Choir and Swell division. The Geigen Principal has a marvellous telling voice quality, against the exceedingly vibrant Open Diapason on the Great. The reeds add controlled and nicely balanced fire, in both Great and Swell, whose major choruses are underpinned by two substantial Pedal 16ft flues. If the Oboe displays its own fascinating French character, the Clarionet and the Willis's Orchestral Oboe on the Choir provide a good versatility.

But ultimately it is the effect of full organ that evokes the greatest admiration. Though the effectiveness of the contribution from the Swell must not be underestimated, the big sound comes from the Great. The bell-like grandeur and the harmonic brilliance is a sound of astonishing magnificence.

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