“A due Organi” – Works of VIVALDI, GABRIELI, GUSSAGO, GROSSI DA VIADANA, PASQUINI, HANDEL, TERRENI, ROSSINI & RUTTER – Rodolfo Bellatti & Nicola Cittadin – Gallo Organ Duets – Works of MOZART, LANGLAIS, CARLETON, MENDELSSOHN, TOMKINS, LEIGHTON & JOHNSTONE – Charles Harrison & David Leigh – Guild

by | Mar 7, 2012 | Classical CD Reviews

“A due Organi” – Works of VIVALDI, GABRIELI, GUSSAGO, GROSSI DA VIADANA, PASQUINI, HANDEL, TERRENI, ROSSINI & RUTTER [TrackList follows] – Rodolfo Bellatti & Nicola Cittadin – Gallo CD-1356, 72:55 [Distr. by Albany] ****:
Organ Duets – Works of MOZART, LANGLAIS, CARLETON, MENDELSSOHN, TOMKINS, LEIGHTON & JOHNSTONE [TrackList follows] – Charles Harrison & David Leigh – Guild GMCD 7368 [Distr. by Albany] ****: 
In the cathedral of Asti in northwestern Italy close to France are two superbly-restored pipe organs which were built at different times with different musical intentions. One is from the Neapolitan school of the 18th century, with a brilliant sound a “Great” with a “concert register.”  The other organ is of a 19th century Lombard style, much bigger and with more “Great” registers and an echo organ designed to compete with orchestral music of Verdi and Rossini.
The selections were made to show the diversity of works the two organs can perform. Pieces originally for two separate performers are mixed with transcriptions of Bach/Vivaldi concerti, symphonies of Rossini and Handel works. The contemporary work which closes the program by John Rutter is interesting in that it was written for either a single organ four hands or two organs. It demonstrates the range of sounds the two organs can produce on works not originally intended for antique organs.
The smaller Grisanti organ is on the left side of the altar, while the later and larger Serassi organ is on the right side, and this is followed in the location of the two channels. The program opens with the three-movement by Bach after Vivaldi – the latter’s Op. 3. The major work on the disc is the Organ Concerto No. 16 in F by Handel, and a Sinfonia on Rossini’s An Italian in Algiers are heard before the final Variations on an Easter Theme by John Rutter.
Duets on the pipe organ developed in Britain earlier than in the rest of Europe. Some experts argued that the development of in dependent pedal divisions in several European countries disinclined composers to create duets. The very earliest fully-developed duets are in the midst of this program: short works of Thomas Tomkins and Nicholas Carleton which make use of imitative and antiphonal effects possible by two players at one instrument. The organ used for these two tracks is in the Retro Choir of Lincoln Cathedral. The opening selection is Mozart’s Fantasia K608, arranged by the two performers as an organ duet on the organ of Lincoln Cathedral. Next are two Fugues by Mendelssohn, then three works by Jean Langlais – one of the most important organist/composers in 20th century France. He had an interest in both piano and organ duets during the ‘70s. The first one of the three calls gamelan music in a hypnotic ostinato in parallel fifths. The middle duet is heavily influenced by Messiaen, and the third is of a cheerful nature, built on a varied rondo form.
The two Andrew Johnstone selections are not at all what one would expect to appear on an organ recital disc. The Irish organist—whose speciality has been the issue of pitch in Tudor music—wrote the work for a duo-recital with another organist. Shack-up and Feud: An Argument for Organ Duet aims to “disperse the notes in such a way that they would be unmistakably the sound of two organists at one console.” The composer says the two performers have to agree to disagree. The work’s title came from a friend who was about to move in with a girlfriend and said he was bracing himself for their first domestic row. Kenneth Leighton based the closing selection, Martyrs—the longest on the program—on the greatest of the Scottish Psalm tunes. He had used it in a larger work and felt more could be done with it. The organ of Lincoln Cathedral, used on most of the tracks, was dedicated in 1898 as a “Father” Henry Willis organ. It is one of the finest British cathedral organs, with all registration details listed in the note booklet. (The cathedral also has three other instruments: the Retro organ used on the two early works, a single-manual chamber organ for continuo work, and another single-manual instrument. All four organs are in regular use.)
A due Organi = Antonio Vivaldi:  Concerto for 4 violins, cello, strings & continuo in B minor (“L’estro armonico” No. 10) Op. 3/10, RV 580;  Giovanni Gabrieli:  Canzon No. 28 (“Sol sol la sol fa mi”) for 8 parts; Cesario Gussago:  La Leona, Canzona 19 a 8; Lodovico Viadana: La Fiorentina; Bernardo Pasquini:  Sonata a due bassi (Grave – Allegro); George Frederick Handel:  Organ Concerto in F major, HWV 305 Bonaventura Terreni;  Sonata for 2 organs in D major; Gioachino Rossini:  Overture to L’italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers); John Rutter: Variations for organ on an Easter Theme (“O Filii et Filiae”)
Organ Duets = MOZART: Fantasia K608 (arr. Harrison and Leigh)
Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY: Fugue in D major; Fugue in C minor
Jean LANGLAIS: Double Fantasie pour deux organistes; Deuxième Fantasie pour deux organistes; Troisième Fantasie pour deux organistes
Thomas TOMKINS: A Fancy for two to play
Nicolas CARLETON: A Verse (In Nomine)
Andrew JOHNSTONE: Shack-up and Feud (2 versions)
Kenneth LEIGHTON: Martyrs Op.73
—John Sunier