Bangor Cathedral. I had the pleasure of playing this instrument some years ago. At the time, it was a large four clavier Compton rebuild of the old Hill organ, sited in the North Choir Aisle, with some parts placed in the North Transept of this comparatively modest building. The organ was chiefly notable for its wide tonal palette and a very large Choir Organ, which had some extension of certain ranks. The rest of the organ was largely 'straight', save for some futher extension and borrowing of manual doubles on the Pedal Organ.

It was recently rebuilt and restored by David Wells, Organ Builders, of Liverpool, England. (This same firm has had the care of the vast Willis organ at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral for several years.)

The rebuild at Bangor has involved some resiting of certain parts of the instrument - chiefly the Choir and Solo organs. The Choir Organ has been greatly reduced in size, in order to fit its new location. However, the Solo Organ has had several ranks added, which were formerly on the old Choir Organ. The extensions to the Dulciana rank have been dispenesd with, and this rank now appears on the Solo Organ at 8ft. pitch only.

Although I have not played it since it was rebuilt, having seen and heard other work by David Wells, I suspect that he has respected the character of this organ and sought simply to preserve and enhace its resources, whilst ensuring that mechanically (it has electro-pneumatic action) it is thoroughly reliable.

Aside from its great range of tonal colour (which includes three undulating ranks), this insrtument also contains two full length 32ft. ranks on the Pedal Organ, an Open Wood and a Contra Trombone. The tutti is fairly powerful, and, unless the work by David Wells is more radical than his normal approach, largely reed dominated.

Acoustically the building is a little disappointing* - although this is hardly surprising, given that it is what may be described as a 'parish church catherdral' - in that its shape and size more closely resembles a fairly large English parish church, than a great cathedral.

* There is virtually no appreciable resonance, the sound ceasing once a chord is released.

Charterhouse School Chapel is more typical of the work of Arthur Harrison (with the occasional copy by HN&B or Rushworth & Dreaper). Harrison's opaque and harmonically dead Trombe are not necessarily regarded as traditional English - at least not since men habitually wore handlebar moustaches and women took delight in fabricating underclothing from Crinoline. These stops, together with the fearful Harmonics (17-19-flat 21-22) were usually capable of immense power. Extant examples are Crediton Parish Church, Devon (G.O. at 8ft. and 4ft.), Ripon Cathedral (G.O. at 16ft., 8ft. and 4ft.) and, clearly, Charterhouse. These stops were generally voiced on a wind pressure which could range from 250mm to 450mm.

Whilst it could be said that the Harmonics (when present) helped to make these stops blend with the rest of the G.O., I would argue that, in reality, these reeds and the companion mixture were fundamentally flawed. Due to the impenetrable nature of the tone of the reeds, together with their tendency utterly to swamp just about everything else, with the exception of an equally turbid and loud Tuba, blending was about the last thing of which they were capable.

Thankfully, there are rather more examples of the type of chorus reed which was favoured by 'Father' Henry Willis left to us today. Notwithstanding his debt to Cavaillé-Coll, these reeds are arguably more truly representative of the (favoured) traditional English sound. They were usually voiced on a pressure of approximately 175mm, and were given a rather more open tone - still powerful, but with greatly superior blending qualities, as compared to H&H Trombe.