PHI CD 194: The Father Willis Organ, St George's Church, Gateshead,

Francis Jackson - organ

Louis Vierne (1870-1937) from 24 Pièces en style libre, Op. 31
[1] Cortège (No.2) [3.23] [2] Scherzetto (No.14) [3.55] [3] Prélude No.5 [4.25]
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
[4]-[5] Prelude and Fugue (The Wedge) in E minor BWV 548 [15.29]
Pietro Nardini (1722-1793)
[6] Andante from Viola Sonata in F minor (arr. Francis Jackson)* [2.06]
Heathcote Statham (1889-1973)
[7] Rhapsody in C [7.05]
Francis Jackson (b. 1917)
[8] Improvisation on Irish, Op.141, No.1* [5.08]
[9] Fantasia Campaniculata Op.132* [4.13]
[10] Prelude on Kettlebaston Op.141, No.2* [2.15]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1792)
[11] Fantasia in F minor K 608 [12.51]
Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911)
[12] Allegretto in B minor from Pièces dans différents styles pour orgue Op.19 [6.10]
Leo Sowerby (1895-1968)
[13] Toccata (1940) [8.54]
Francis Jackson - organ
* first commercial recording

Released 19/3/04
Recorded 10, 11 & 12 February 2004 at St. George's Church, Gateshead. Console assistant: Martin Monkman
Recorded, produced & design by Martin Monkman, Amphion Recordings

This CD was commissioned by the PCC of St. George's Church Gateshead to celebrate the restoration of the Father Willis organ and also the 80th birthday in April 2004 of their vicar, the Reverend Edward Underhill, who has ministered to the parish since 1957.

The Organ and Church
Henry Willis I, otherwise called "Father" Willis, was probably the greatest British organ builder of the l9th century. He was born in 1821, and died in 1901. The organ in St. George's was one of his last major works. The firm was continued by his descendants, and is still in business today. The instrument in St. George's Gateshead is a superb example of the culmination of Willis' work and indeed the whole firm's work during that period. It was consecrated in 1901 and has been expertly maintained in its original condition; the work on the Gateshead 'Father' Willis was completed by his son Henry Willis II. The tubular-pneumatic action and specification are unaltered from when it was built and the tone is extraordinarily beautiful, making it ideal for both liturgical and recital purposes. It is highly regarded as an exceptional treasure by internationally renowned visiting organists and has attracted glowing compliments from the many English Cathedral organists who have played it.
Philip Moore, Organist and Master of the Music, York Minster comments:
'Father Willis is universally acknowledged to be one of the great organ builders of all time. His instruments are national treasures and a vital part of our heritage. There is something quite exceptional about the Willis in St. George's Church, and it stands, unchanged by fashion, as a tribute to a great artist.'
Simon Lindley, Organist of Leeds Parish Church observes:
'The St. George's organ is an utter gem and has to be one of the best instruments in Britain'
The organ has been restored to its original condition by Harrison & Harrison Ltd of Durham, the final stage of this work being the re-leathering of the bellows and the repair of water and smoke damage following an arson attack on the church. There are regular organ recitals at St George's and the organ was reopened, after its restoration, by Dr. Francis Jackson on 27 June 2003.
St. George's Church Gateshead was built to the design of John Piper and consecrated in 1897. It is a splendidly preserved Grade II Listed Building which is favourably reviewed in the Durham section of Pevsner's "Buildings of England"