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Gordon Stewart Plays the Dobson Organ in Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, Virginia - [BPC-01] $16.98

Recitalist Gordon Stewart played the dedication concerts on the 2019 Dobson Organ, op. 96, at Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, Virginia, in September, 2019. In sessions before the first of two concerts required to serve the many who attended (both with the same program of music), Gordon Stewart recorded the repertoire presented here. The sessions were recorded by Raven owner William T. Van Pelt and donated to the church. Gordon Stewart produced the CD in England with editing engineer Richard Kimmings.

George Frederick Handel (1685-1759): Overture to the Occasional Oratorio: Andante Maestoso, Allegro, Adagio, March
J. S. Bach (1685-1750): Bournée from the Third Suite for Cello, arr. Horace Alfred Bate (1899-1995)
Louis Marchand (1669-1732): Four movements from the Deuxieme Livre: Grand Jeu, Basse de Trompette, Récit, Grand Jeu
J. S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 543
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809): Scherzando from Sonata in C-sharp minor, arr. Harry Wall (1871-1941)
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847): Sonata No. 2, Op. 65
Szolt Gárdonyi (b. 1946): Mozart Changes
Noel Rawsthorne (1929-2019): Celtic Lament
Aaron Shows (b. 1989): Comfort, comfort ye my people
Andrew Carter (b. 1939): Aria
Leonard Butler (1869-1943): Capricietto
Enrico Bossi (1861-1925): Toccata di Concerto

Gordon Stewart was born in Scotland and after studies in Manchester and Geneva with Gillian Weir, Eric Chadwick and Lionel Rogg, he was for 15 years a cathedral organist, first in Manchester, then in Blackburn. For almost 30 years he has been Borough Orgnaist of Kirklees where he plays regular concerts on the 1870 Father Willis organ in Huddersfield Town Hall. He has recorded many CDs on the Priory, Dolcan and Lammas labels. For more than two decades, he broadcast regularly as organist and conductor on BBC radio and television, chiefly as musical director on Daily Service, Sunday Half-Hour, and Songs of Praise. He is well-known as a teacher at Royal Northern College of Music, Cambridge University (teaching students of King's, St. John's, and Jesus Colleges).

The organ, Opus 96 of the Dobson firm, stands in the east gallery, in the space formerly occupied by the 1785 Samuel Green organ case (which had been acquired in 1939) and multitudes of concealed pipes of the previous organ. It takes its visual cues from the reredos, recreated in the 1939–40 restoration of the church, extending its design upward in a way that honors the older material without copying it. It is built of yellow poplar and painted to match the existing woodwork. The front pipes of 75% tin are drawn from the Great Principal 8' and the Pedal Octave 8', and are overlaid with 22-karat gold leaf.

The organ console, like the pulpit, is constructed of black walnut. Most walnut sold commercially today is steamed to even out its color, a process that trades richness for consistency. Instead, lumber that was dried in the traditional way was obtained by Dobson from a sawmill in Albert City, Iowa. This walnut lumber’s varied colors are complemented by the Carpathian elm burl that enriches the console interior.

The console is movable, supported by an integral dolly that needs no space-consuming platform. It normally lives in the front box on the south side, and it can easily be moved by a single person into the central aisle or transepts for recitals or concerts.

An organ of the size of Opus 96 is anachronistic in a North American Colonial building, as most instruments from that era were modest chamber organs like the 1785 Green organ. Dobson sought to accommodate an instrument of the size expected for a present-day church music program by placing as much of the organ as possible in a traditional, line-of-sight relationship with the nave. Thus, the Great, Positive, and part of the Pedal are located in the new case. The Swell and largest Pedal pipes are in the attic directly above the case and speak through grilles. Portions of the old organ were similarly installed in the attic, but the new organ has much heavier walls around the Swell for more effectiveness when the swell shades are closed and better reflection of sound into the church when they are open. Equally important, a dedicated HVAC system for the attic area containing the organ keeps the temperature up there comparable to that around the pipes in the case below, giving a stability of tuning that was not possible before.

Because the organ so often accompanies historic instruments tuned one semitone below modern pitch, a transposer allows the organ to play at A=415 Hz in addition to the normal A=440 Hz. Four additional A=415 Hz bass pipes provide low C for stops throughout the organ when the transposer is in use. The organ is tuned to equal temperament.
John A. Panning,
President and Tonal Director,
Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd.
abridged from The Diapason, January 2020

Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Lake City, Iowa, Op. 96, 2019

II Great 3½" wind
    16'    Bourdon
    8'    Principal
    8'    Gamba
    8'    Chimney Flute
    4'    Octave
    4'    Flute
    2-2/3'    Twelfth
    2'     Fifteenth
    1-3/5'    Seventeenth
    IV    Mixture 2'
    8'    Trumpet
Tremulant
Swell to Great
Positive to Great

III Swell (encl.) 5" wind
    8'    Diapason
    8'    Bourdon
    8'    Viole
    8'    Viole Celeste (CC)
    4'    Octave
    4'    Harmonic Flute
    2-2/3'    Nasard
    2'    Octavin
    1-3/5'    Tierce
    IV    Mixture 1-1/3'
    16'    Bassoon
    8'    Trumpet
    8'    Oboe
    4'    Clarion
   Tremulant (Sw & Pos.)

I Positive 3½" wind
    8'    Principal
    8'    Gedeckt
    4'    Principal
    4'    Chimney Flute
    2'    Octave
    1-1/3'    Larigot
    II    Sharp Mixture 2/3'
    8'    Clarinet
    Tremulant
    Swell to Positive

Pedal larger stops 4½" wind
    16'    Principal
    16'    Subbass
    16'    Bourdon (Great)
    8'    Octave
    8'    Gedeckt (ext. Subbass)
    4'    Super Octave
    16'    Trombone
    8'    Trumpet
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Positive to Pedal

Electric key and stop actions
Slider windchests
A=440Hz/A=415Hz transposer
Combination action, 999 levels

Gordon Stewart Plays the Dobson Organ in Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, Virginia
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