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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerti trascritti per Organo

Concerto in Sol minore RV 328
(Allegro [6.11]; Largo [2.40]; Allegro [4.28])
Concerto in Do Maggiore RV 144 - Ciaccona [5.55]
Concerto in La minore RV 356, op. 3 no. 6, L’Estro armonico
(Allegro [4.37]; Largo (Solo e cantabile) ; Presto [4.18])
Sonata in Mi minore RV 67 [3.29];
Concerto in Do Maggiore RV 180 –Il Piacere
(Allegro [5.19]; Largo e Cantabile [3.54] ;
Concerto in Re Maggiore RV 206 - Grave [6.24]
Concerto in Sol minore RV 333
(Allegro [7.30]; Andante cantabile [2.38]; Allegro [9.42])
Francesco Tasini (Organ)
Organ of Chiesa di Santa Maria di Gesso, Bologna, Italy (Dell’Orto and Lanzini of Dolmelletto, Novara, 2003)
Recorded at Santa Maria di Gesso, Bologna, Italy, 8 February 2004
TACTUS TC 672241 [69:52]


One may agree that Italy during the 17th and 18th century was the leading music nation in Europe. Amongst Italy’s most enlightened composers of this wonderful period was Antonio Vivaldi. With hundreds of compositions, baroque music found through him its unique style. Also as a stimulator for Bach and next generations, Vivaldi influenced his contemporary composers, who transcribed numerous of his instrumental compositions for keyboard. Vivaldi was certainly the creator of the ‘baroque concerto’ and evidently esteemed the importance of nice and simple melody in his compositions. Somehow Stravinsky’s comment ‘Vivaldi is very much overestimated, a boring man who could compose one and the same concerto six hundred times running’ seems out of place and not only for baroque music lovers.

Using as a guide Bach’s and Walther’s own transcriptions of Vivaldi’s concertos for organ, the organist Francesco Tasini ‘presents in this CD his own transcriptions, arrangements and ‘reductions’ for organ of a series of celebrated concertos by Antonio Vivaldi’. The art of transcription declined throughout most of the 20th century. Only at the end of this period was there a new interest in this unique test of musical art and skill.

As Tasini writes in the booklet’s notes ‘we think that times have by now sufficiently matured in matters of both knowledge of the repertoire and of stylistic evaluation to warrant a return to this practice, not so much with the intention of following faithfully the historical prototypes as much as revitalizing their artistic value’. Even if it is a comment that not necessarily everybody agrees with, at least there is a certain curiosity to see how smart and artistic the transcriber can be.

Tasini’s transcriptions are very successful as they succeed in conveying the beauty and mastery of these concertos to the organ. Some of them especially, sound as if they were written originally for the instrument.

Another positive point is that Tasini’s performances are very clear – especially in the hands - with nice articulation and variety in the playing of the ornamentation. Also the selection of the registration is successful and interesting, with an eye to variety ... as far the organ permits. The organ is ‘in the Silbermann style’ and sounds very interesting indeed but a choice of another bigger organ would have been more successful.

What is missing though, is the spontaneity of the performer and the flow of the music. Tasini chooses a playing style that goes to the far end of metronomic playing, i.e. it has too much freedom and over-accentuation, almost in every bar and especially at the harmonic changes. His freedom in rhythm becomes distracting and almost sounds rhythmically wrong; i.e. track 1: (1.05) and (2.56), track 3 the following sequence: (1.22, 1.28, 1.33, 1.44), track 5: (2.26, 2.30) to mention but a few. Also his over-accentuation cuts the flow of the music and makes the music very predictable. Tasini’s playing reveals all the secret of the music and leaves no surprises for the listener. His allegro tempi are always somewhat slow; sounding as if the work is being taken at practice tempo (track 9).

Between tracks 8 and 11, the order of the selection may leave you feeling bored. Also the concerto in Re maggiore is out of place as only the grave (track 11) is here, which is, by the way, in re minor. The listener is however repaid by the last concerto in Sol minore; it is the most interesting of them all; a concerto of captivating harmony and rhythm. For the slow movements he uses only 16’ at the pedal; a pity as it sounds later than the part for the hands. This could of course be excused by the limitation of organ stops.

As the American musicologist Alfred Einstein wrote about Vivaldi’s music: ‘it’s as if doors and windows of a baroque hall were thrown open and one were greeted by fresh air’. Tasini succeeded through his transcriptions in opening the windows and doors of a baroque hall. Strangely enough what he did not succeed in doing was to bring the fresh air in.

Christina Antoniadou

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