Italian Pastorals of 20th Century
ITALIAN PASTORALES FOR ORGAN - vol. 3rd: 20th CENTURYAfter having freed itself from the heavy hand of opera, Italian organ music became impregnated toward the end of the 19th century with the fascinating universe of timbres offered by newly conceived instruments. The memorable classic approach to organ-building which had reigned on the peninsula up to that time became alchemically fused with diverse phonic characteristics of other European schools (particular the French school), resulting in innovative sound machines which were the creative work of accomplished artisans. Among these builders, Carlo Vegezzi-Bossi stands out for his genius. In his hands, the expressive capabilities of the organ become poetry, and each timbre contributes to the sonorous whole, creating a vibrant world of emotions similar to those elicited by the pen of Gabriele D’Annunzio or the brush of Giovanni BoldiniWe shall achieve such heights in this excursion into the Italian pastorale of the 1900s, where the joyous candor of the form often concealed complex compositional architecture. From the dawning of the 20th century, almost as a reflection of the lacerating social transformations taking place at that time, the cradling melodic cliché which had narrated the reassuring purity of Christmas joy was revisited by multifarious and unexpected musical solutions, not infrequently shrouded in mystery or melancholy (see, for example, the Pastorale by Di Donato, the Pastorale e Musetta by Matthey, or Noël by Ravanello). Our journey begins at that moment of transition between two centuries when tradition and innovation cohabit in a coloristic language of seductive refinement. Everything throbs within microstructures whose variety of timbre is its vital lifeblood, and frequent are the friendly nods to models from France (Refice’s Berceuse) or Anglo-American models (Yon’s Prelude-Pastorale). With the approach of the 1950s, more sober neo-classic forms appropriated the Italian organistic language, now pervaded by modal austerity and antique formal structures (see, for example, the Pastorale by Desderi and Corale-Pastorale by Tagliavini). In formulating this poetic itinerary, we have turned out attention to musicians such as Bossi, Capocci, Remondi, Ravanello, Matthey, Bambini, Belletti and Yon. The particular historical and aesthetic moment in which they found themselves has led these composers to fall into oblivion. The time has now come to end this state of affairs, for to them the field of Italian organ music owes a number of large-scale works of significant artistic meritLastly, the palette of timbres heard in this anthology is made even more luxurious by the presence of the oboe and English horn, “pastoral” instruments par excellence. Indeed, from the mid-19th century onward, organ builders constantly attempted to imitate (at times successfully) their fascinating and sensual sound.