The Canadian Encyclopedia says this about the "early" organ works of Healey Willan (1880-1968): With the music for organ one enters a different world. Here Willan was thoroughly at home and made a significant and lasting contribution. One work stands out: the monumental "Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue" of 1916. The Preludes and Fugues in C minor and B minor and the "Epilogue" are the other major works from this period. While not exploring the possibilities of the instrument as searchingly as his masterpiece, they are idiomatic and very typical of their time. They combine an innate Englishness (with a Stanfordian flavour) and a European chromaticism that can be found in Reger and Karg-Elert.
Born in England, Willan became organist-choirmaster of Toronto's largest church, St. Paul's, Bloor Street, but it was his royalties as a composer which allowed him to leave "low church" St. Paul's in 1921 and to become Precentor of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene (Toronto).
The tune, "Capetown" is by Friedrich Filitz , 1847, and is paired with the text, "Fold us in the peace of Heaven." It is the fourth of "Ten Hymn Preludes, Set One," published by C. F. Peters in 1956.
Willan sets this as a true Sicilienne, and the effect is quite pleasing. The music is quite gentle, but if you listen, you will hear some "dissonance" in there, but it all passes calmly away.
In this performance, the hymn-tune is played upon the Solo Double Clarinet 16' (an octave higher), and the sicilienne is played upon the Swell Second Open Diapason 8', Rohrflute 8' and Waldflute 4'. The melody is played on the Great, with a combination of several flutes and the Third Open Diapason 8', coupled to the Swell.
The score is attached below, as well as several photos of Healey Willan, and one of the interior of Peterborough Cathedral.
More demos of this sample set, as well as the new Lavender Audio set of St. Mary-le-Bow COMING SOON!