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Bambusorgel (Bamboo Organ)
José XIMENEZ (1601-1672)
Batalla  de 6° tono [5:55]
Juan CABANILLES (1644-1712)
Tiento de falsas de 4° tono [2:29]
Pedro DE SAN LORENZO (17th century)
Obra de 1° tono de registro de mano derecha [3:06]
Juan CABANILLES (1644-1712)
Pasacalles I [2:4]
ANONYMOUS (16th century)
Canción: Revuillis vous [0:37]
Antonio de CABEZÓN (1510-1566)
Tiento de 1° tono [1:47]
ANTONIO (16th century)
Fabordón Glosado: Dic Nobis, María [1:27]
Francisco CORREA DE ARAUXO (1575-1663)
Tiento de Medio registro de baxon de 1° tono [4:30]
Sebastián AGUILERA DE HEREDIA (1561-1627)
Salve de lleno de 1° tono [1:48]
Frei Diego DA CONCEIÇÃO (17th century)
Meio registro de 2° tono accidental [3:15]
ANONYMOUS (17th century)
Españoleta [1:51]
Pablo BRUNA (1611-1679)
Tiento Pange Lingua de 5° tono [1:37]
Narcís CASANOVAS (1747-1799)
Sonata in F [1:40]
Padre Rafael ANGLÉS (1730-1816)
Adagietto [2:01]
José da MADRE DE DEUS (18th century)
Fuga I [2:34]
Carlos SEIXAS (1704-1742)
Sonata in A [6:33]
Félix Máximo López (1742-1821)
Verso de 2° tono [1:30]
Pablo BRUNA (1611-1679)
Tiento de falsas de 2° tono [4:54]
Francisco GUERAU (17th century)
Canarios [1:51]
Albert Bolliger (organ)
Bamboo Organ, Parish Church of St. Joseph, Las Piñas, Philippines.
rec. no date given.
SINUS CD 4003 [54:12]
Experience Classicsonline

Here is a rare and distinctive treat. Whether you want to savour the sounds of a unique organ, or whether you are an admirer of the Iberian music of the early modern period, this is a CD guaranteed to give you a great deal of pleasure.
 
The organ to be heard here is one made in the nineteenth-century organ - to a much older pattern - and made wholly from bamboo; only the trumpet stops are made of metal. It was the creation of Father Diego Cera de la Virgin del Carmen, born in Graus, in the Spanish Pyrenees. Late in the 1780s he joined the order of the Augustinian Recollects. A talented musician, he spent four years as organist at an Augustinian monastery in Barcelona and travelled, with twelve other priests, to take up work in the Philippines. In December of 1795 he took charge of a poor parish in Las Piñas, near Manila.  A man of impressive energy, Father Diego set about teaching his parishioners new ways of dyeing the cotton they grew, so as to increase its marketability. He also set about replacing their bamboo church with one made of stone. In 1816, while the stone church was still under construction, he began to build an organ made of bamboo. The pipes had to be cut and then buried in sand before they could be used, a procedure designed to make them absorb sand, which would protect them against the depredations of insects. By 1821 the organ, with 747 bamboo pipes was in a playable condition. In 1824 Cera added the 121 metal pipes for the ‘Spanish trumpets’.
 
Over the years a whole series of natural disasters – from earthquakes to typhoons – did extensive damage to both church and organ. Father Cera died in 1832. From the 1880s onwards the organ seems to have deteriorated to the point where it was unplayable. Sporadic attempts at restoration achieved only temporary successes until in the 1970s the Bonn firm of Johannes Klais was awarded a contract for the full restoration and the instrument was shipped there in 1973. It was returned to Las Piñas in March 1975, amidst much celebration. Since then the organ - declared a ‘National Cultural Treasure’ by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2003 - has hosted many festivals, and recitals by distinguished visiting organists. The booklet contains the specifications of the organ - using the relevant Spanish terms:
 
Bass:
Bajon cillo                    4'
Clarin Campaña            2'
Flautado Mayor            4'
Flautado Violon            8'
Octava 1a                    2'
Octava 2a                    2'
Docena 1a                    11/3'
Docena 2a                    11/3'
Quincena 1a                 1'
Quincena 2a                 1'
Pajaritos
 
Treble:
Clarin Claro                  8'
Clarin Campaña            8'
Flautado Mayor            8'
Flautado Violon            16'
Octava 1a                    4'
Octava 2a                    4'
Docena 1a and 2a (2)  22/3'
Quincena 1a and 2a (3) 2'
Travizera (2)                 8'
Corneta (5)                  8'
Otavina                        4'
Tanbor
 
The booklet also contains a list of the registrations employed in each piece.
 
The documentation of this present CD provides no recording date, but the back inset carries the information “(P) and © 1990”, so it is obviously not terribly recent. But the sound (DDD) is fine and clear – clear enough to pick up the occasional accompaniment of a choir of crickets; the booklet notes (author unnamed) charmingly observe that “the church of St. Joseph at Las Piñas also houses a colony of crickets, who were allowed to participate in this recording, as it was thought that father Diego, too, would not have turned away those congenial musicians”.
 
The Swiss organist Albert Bolliger has made many recordings on historic instruments and, unsurprisingly, has chosen a programme which shows off the organ to its best. The sound is relatively small but vivacious, attractively reedy and clearly articulated. The instrument sounds particularly good in the brief tiento (a kind of ricercare) by Cabezon and allows interesting effects in the characteristically Spanish ‘battle’ piece by Ximenez. Its clarity of articulation brings out the dancing patterns of Guerau’s Canarios (from a collection published in 1694), in which a delightful touch is added by the use of the  ‘pajaritos’ - remember that pajarito is the Spanish for “baby bird” and you’ll get the idea.
 
In truth there isn’t a dull piece here – or at any rate none of them sound at all dull played by Albert Bolliger on this charming instrument with a unique sound world. A delight from beginning to end.
 
Glyn Pursglove
 

 


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