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Bernardo PASQUINI (1637 - 1710)
Sonatas for two organs
Sonata No. 1 in D [3:44]
Sonata No. 2 in C* [6:08]
Sonata No. 3 in d minor [4:45]
Sonata No. 4 in B flat [4:21]
Sonata No. 5 in b minor [4:15]
Sonata No. 6 in e minor [5:53]
Sonata No. 7 in F [5:45]
Sonata No. 8 in g minor* [5:20]
Sonata No. 9 in c minor [5:59]
Sonata No. 10 in e minor [5:06]
Sonata No. 11 in g minor* [5:20]
Sonata No. 12 in B flat [4:56]
Sonata No. 13 in a minor [5:57]
Sonata No. 14 in g minor* [3:47]
Luca Scandali (organ), Hadrien Jourdan (organ, harpsichord*)
rec. 29-31 October 2012, Basilica di Santa Maria della Misericordia, Sant'Elpidio a Mare, Fermo, Italy. DDD

Bernardo Pasquini was generally considered the most brilliant keyboard player in Italy in the second half of the 17th century, comparable with Frescobaldi in the first half. He was born in Pistoia and moved to Rome in 1650. Here he spent the rest of his life, although he made various appearances abroad. He performed for Louis XIV in Paris and at the imperial court in Vienna during the reign of Leopold I. His reputation crossed the borders of Italy: he attracted many pupils from all over Europe, such as Johann Philipp Krieger and Georg Muffat.
In Rome he played a key role in musical life and enjoyed the patronage of Queen Christina of Sweden and the Cardinals Orroboni and Pamphili. He regularly worked together with Arcangelo Corelli who also was the leader of the orchestra in a performance of one of Pasquini's operas. In 1706 Pasquini and Alessandro Scarlatti became members of the Arcadian Academy, founded in 1690. He wrote a considerable number of vocal works, especially operas and oratorios. Unfortunately most of the latter are lost.
Despite his reputation as a keyboard player and composer few of his keyboard works have been published during his lifetime. In the 1960s the first edition of his complete output in this department was printed. It shows great variety in forms: suites of dances, partite (sequences of variations), passacagli and toccatas, clearly influenced by Frescobaldi.
Pasquini also wrote two treatises, one of them lost. It is quite possible that the sonatas which are the subject of this disc were written as educational material. Pasquini wrote two sets of fourteen sonatas each, for one and two keyboards respectively. Instead of writing them out he provided only basso continuo lines which have to be worked out during performance. The sonatas for two keyboards have been recorded before by Attilio Cremonesi and Alessandro de Marchi (Symphonia, 1992); I am not aware of any recording of the sonatas for one keyboard. The fact that the players have to work out the bassi continui themselves obviously results in varying performances.
A comparison between the timings shows quite a few differences. More importantly - and making this disc a valuable alternative to the Symphonia disc - is the choice of instruments. Cremonesi and De Marchi played two harpsichords; Scandali and Jourdain play most of the sonatas at two large organs from the 18th century. Many Italian churches of that time had two organs at the opposing sides of the choir: one on the 'epistle side', and therefore called the 'Epistle organ', and one at the 'gospel side' - the 'Gospel organ'. This allows a dialogue between the two instruments which is especially effective if one listens with headphones. These two organs in the Basilica di Santa Maria della Misericordia in Sant'Elpidio a Mare date from 1757 and 1785 respectively. The former was built by Pietro Nacchini, the latter by the famous organ builder Gaetano Callido. This organ was not originally constructed for this church, but first placed in the Benedictine nunnery. Both instruments are in unequal tuning which manifests itself regularly during performance, and which makes them all the more interesting and spicy. Also interesting is the combination of one of the organs with the harpsichord. The latter is a copy of an instrument built in 1789 by Ignazio Mucciardi which is part of the collection of Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini in Bologna.
I am happy with the Symphonia disc, but I am also glad to add this disc to my collection. Not only do the two organists deliver inspired and sparkling performances, the organs produce a gorgeous sound, thanks to the variety of registers which the two artists have used. This disc offers more than 70 minutes of pure joy. Don't miss it.

Johan van Veen