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Giovanni Maria PELAZZA (1847-1936)
12 Suonate sui varii tuoni (pre 1887)
Allegro Sinfonico [7:35]
Suonata Caratteristica in D [5:36]
Suonata in C [4:24]
Suonata in E-flat [3:58]
Adagio in A [4:48]
Marcia Finale in F [3:09]
Marcia Finale in G [3:30]
Adagio per l’elevazione [4:03]
Suonata in F [4:39]
Polka Finale in F [2:10]
Adagio in G [3:51]
Suonata in C [3:44]
Bruno Bergamini (organ)
rec. 2017, Chiesa di San Gaetano da Thiene, Turin
TACTUS TC841601 [51:35]

Giovanni Maria Pelazza was born in Carmagnola (Turin), and Bruno Bergamini’s notes give an overview of what little we know about his life. He was apparently a close friend of the likes of Saint-Saëns and Verdi, and the set of 12 Organ Sonatas recorded here were composed amidst a musical atmosphere filled with opera, operetta and dance music. Judging by the registrations they were composed for the Lingiardi organ in the Basilica di M. Ausiliatrice in Turin, and Bergamini has sought out a suitable instrument for this recording in the 1890 organ by Carlo Vegezzi Bossa at the Chiesa di San Gaetano da Thiene, Turin.

This is the kind of organ recording I really love. The music itself is great fun, with facile melodies over oom-pah bass accompaniments, atmospheric adagios and the occasional special effect, such as the bells in the Suonata Caratteristica. If you like the more fun pieces by Claude-Bénigne Balbastre or Louis Lefébure-Wely then you will find much to tickle you here. Trumpet or reed stops occasionally leap out disproportionally, pieces such as the two Marcia Finale and Polka Finale are hilariously unaffected in their melodies, and most of the music here is so entertaining you’ll feel it’s almost a naughty secret vice to play them.

The glorious effect of all this is greatly assisted by the added noises from the organ. Organists of the period seem not to have had page turners or assistants to change registers, and so “the noise and time required for the registration switch are left intentionally on the record.” Pauses punctuated by wooden clattering and banging are to be heard throughout, and Berganini does a heroic job in keeping everything together musically while literally ‘pulling out all the stops’, though presumably not all at once. The recording captures plenty of mechanical noise from the pedals and is close enough for us to feel we are part of the air being churned within this spectacular instrument.

This is the kind of CD you can get out to cheer yourself up from time to time, or for laughs with your friends after a couple of glasses of wine. You can be sure one of them will try to guess these pieces as part of Rossini’s ‘sins of old age.’ The effect is something of a novelty, but we all need something like this in our collections.

Dominy Clements

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