Dialogue for Two Organs

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Dialogue for Two Organs

Cherubini Galuppi Clementi Bonazzi Busi Canneti

Dialogue: \a verbal interchange, conversation betweentwo or more persons ... a composition for two or morevoices or instruments". Intelligence, logic and reason allhave a part to play, not only in human conversation, butalso in musical dialogues, through simplicity ofexpression, hexachordal mutation of Gregorian chant,well-considered responses to musical cues, and so on.

These dialogues for two organs originate in partfrom the practice of alternatim, in which the instrumentwould both add to and draw inspiration from a complexpolyphonic texture. Organ improvisation is moreovercenturies-old, as shown by this reference made to it byGirolamo Diruta (c.1550- after 1612) in his organtreatise Il Transilvano: "... listening in St Mark's(Venice), that most famous of churches, to a duelbetween two organs responding to one another withsuch skill and grace that I was almost beside myself, andlonging to meet these two great champions, I waited bythe door until I saw appear Claudio Merulo and AndreaGabrieli...". The cities of Venice, Milan, Padua,Bologna, Rome and Naples -- whose churches boastedinstruments constructed by the greatest organ-builders-- all, thanks to the musical genius and imagination oftheir organist-composers, played a part in establishingcompositional criteria and various different musicalforms, of which this CD contains a number of examples,the latest work dating from the mid-nineteenth century.

The Sonata for two organs by the Florentinecomposer Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842) is dated 1780,Milan. The lighthearted opening theme is followed by amasterful display of counterpoint in two fugues, for thefirst and second organ respectively. The initial themereturns at the end in a duel of rhythm and movementbefore the two join in unison at the final cadence. In hislight and elegant Sonata for two harpsichords, or organand spinet, Baldassare Galuppi, "Il Buranello" (1707-85), favours the style galant, the simplified and styliseddescendant of the Baroque. The score of the nineteenthcenturySonata for two organs by an "anonymousItalian", like those of the Clementi and Bonazzi pieces,is held in the Milan Cathedral archive. All these workshave been newly published by Armelin (Padua). In theanonymous piece, the thematic elements (variouslytransposed) are passed back and forth, echo-like,between the two instruments, thereby creating atransparent, flowing musical texture, with richerharmonies generally occurring at the cadences.

Also included on this CD is the Sonata for twoorgans by Muzio Clementi (1752-1832), prodigy,composer, pianist and publisher. His skill in thepianistic idiom is evident in this piece, which is dividedinto three principal sections: Allegro molto-Allegretto-Allegro molto. Ferdinando Bonazzi (1764-1845) wasfirst organist at Milan Cathedral and his Suonata andPastoral for two organs both come from its archive. Weknow that there were two organists at Milan, who wouldtake turns to play the two exquisite instruments built byGian Giacomo Antegnati (1559) and CristoforoValvassori (1607). The presence of these instruments(subsequently modified) probably explains the quantityof works written for two organs. The style galant of thefirst piece by Bonazzi contrasts with the pastoralgracefulness of the second, which unfolds in threesections: Andante-Minuetto Allegro-Allegro.

The Four Sonatas for two organs by the Bolognesecomposer Giuseppe Busi (1808-71) show how theidiom was developing under the influence of opera,which was by then the dominant musical form in Italy.

The Four Sonatas are written in different tempi(Sonata I Allegro giusto; Sonata II Adagio; Sonata IIIAllegro; Sonata IV Largo) but the first three employ theby then standard rhythmic and harmonic (and, often,melodic) stimuli. The Fourth Sonata progresses in amore subdued manner, its dialogue linear andtransparent, while denser harmonies emphasisemoments of expressive tension.

Even more obviously influenced by the musicalworld of his time was the organist-composer FrancescoCanneti (1807-84). Organ transcriptions of symphonies,arias, marches and other such pieces by famouscomposers were commonplace by this time, andCanneti's Finale for two organs from Verdi's Aida is anentertaining example, bringing our programme to anend with the well-known Triumphal March.

Nestling in the medieval town of Sant'Elpidio aMare, the magnificent Basilica of the Madonna dellaMisericordia contains not only works of art by Boscoli,Pomarancio and Lilli among others, but also twointernationally renowned organs. The quality of theseinstruments along with the church's impeccableacoustics and beautiful sound synthesis make this aunique setting for music-making.

Luigi Celeghin

English translation: Susannah Howe"
Disc: 1
Finale for two organs from Verdi's Aida
1 Sonata for two organs
2 Sonata for two organs
3 Sonata for two organs
4 Sonata for two organs
5 Sonata for two organs
6 Pastorale for two organs
7 Sonata I: Allegro giusto
8 Sonata II: Adagio
9 Sonata III: Allegro
10 Sonata IV: Largo
11 Finale for two organs from Verdi's Aida
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