The Italian Positive
This Italian Positive organ was built around 1750 by an unknown builder in the region of Naples, Italy. After being in storage for decades, it was in need of major restoration work. Robert Wech of Orgelbau Wech, Buchloe, Germany, did the technical and cosmetic restoration before it was shipped to Martin Pasi’s shop in Roy, WA. The pipe and tonal restoration was recently completed at the Pasi shop.
The physical structure and tonal specification are typical for Italian organs of this vintage and size. The five stops are all of the principal family, and combine to create a classic Italian ripieno, or chorus. The 1 1/3’ and 1’ stops break back one octave in the highest octave like a mixture. The interior metal pipes are made of a high lead alloy, while the façade pipes are of high tin content. The lowest notes of the Principale 8’ are made of wood, with the lowest three pipes being stopped.
The organ has a slider windchest and a suspended key action with no bushings, giving a very direct and sensitive touch while functioning silently. The key compass is four octaves with a short octave in the bass. The wind is supplied by two multi-fold bellows in the base of the case. One bellows is a restored original while the second is a reproduction. The organ may be pumped by hand, but now also has a silent electric blower. The wind pressure is 50mm. The organ is tuned in ¼-comma meantone and is pitched ½-step low at a’-415.
The sound of the organ is gentle and yet intense, articulate and suave. It is an ideal medium for the Italian organ literature of the 16-18th centuries, and is also proving to be a superb instrument for accompaniment. Though soft, it leads congregational singing well.