PHI CD 174: The Hill Organ Eton College
Chapel English Organ Music Paul
Edward Elgar: Imperial March. Arthur Goodhart: Impromptu in A.
Charles Harford Lloyd: Andante Grazioso (Dialogue).
Hubert Parry: Chorale Fantasia on an Old English Tune. Ralph Vaughan Williams: Prelude and Fugue in C minor. Thomas Arne: Concerto in B flat .
Geoffrey Leeds: Elegy. Henry Ley: Jubilate. Edward Bairstow: Sonata in E flat.
Michael Tippett: Preludio al Vespero di Monteverdi. Christopher Steel: Fantasy on a Theme of Purcell.
Richard Popplewell: Aria: 'The time of the singing' Peter Warlock: Capriol Suite.
A new Hill organ was commissioned in 1869 to the design of Rev. L.G. Hayne, then Precentor. He was an amateur organ-builder, and his scheme was unrealistically ambitious. The first attempt was unsuccessful, and the instrument was tidied up considerably as soon as wiser counsels were able to prevail. In 1881 the whole organ (except for some of the larger metal pipes) was sent back to Hills in London where much of it was destroyed in a factory fire. When the instrument eventually returned to Eton much of it was (necessarily) brand new. This complete rebuilding of 1885 gave the instrument its present appearance: a monumental High-Victorian case (designed by J.L.Pearson) which seeks to rival great European cases from the 17th and 18th centuries. The key action remained heavy, and there were other layout problems presented by the ancient stone arch under which the organ stands. These were mostly solved at a major rebuilding by Hill and Son in 1902. There used to be many big Hill organs throughout England, but virtually all have been radically rebuilt by other hands. Typical instruments of similar size were to be found in Westminster Abbey, King's, St. John's and Trinity Colleges in Cambridge, York Minster, Beverley Minster and the cathedrals of Ely, Manchester, St.Albans, Lichfield, Peterborough, Worcester, Ripon, St.Asaph and Wakefield. Of these, Beverley, Lichfield and Eton are the sole survivors and only Eton retains its original console and action. Here, an old-world elegance and nobility in the choruses is matched by excellently contrasted flutes, subtly varied strings and spanking reeds. Some changes were made in 1939, 1955 and 1960, but in 1987 the enlightened decision was taken to reverse these and restore the whole instrument, tubular-pneumatic action included, to the design of 1902 - leaving only a couple of important stop 'gains' which had been made since that time. This work was carried out by Messrs Mander & Son. This historic instrument is without doubt one of the finest romantic organs in the world. Sadly, it can only be enjoyed to the full between midnight and 5 a.m. due to the proximity of Heathrow Airport!