Mstation Classical Reviews

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Mon, 20 Dec 2004

Renaissance Organ Music

Herbert Tachezi at the organs of the Stiftskirche, Ossiach and the
Hofkirche, Innsbruck

Michelangelo Rossi (1601/2-1656)	Toccata Sesta in G Giovanni Gabrieli
(c.1555-1612)		Canzon francese in E Girolamo Frescobaldi
(1583-1643)	Partite undecima sopra liAria Tarquinio Merula
(1594/5-1665)		Capriccio cromatico in D Girolamo
Frescobaldi				Toccata per liElevatione Canzon terza in G
Tom.s de Santa Maria (? n 1570)		8 fantasies in the 8 church modes
EnrIquez de Valderr.bano (mid C16th)	Fantasia primero grado Antonio
de CabezUn (1510-1566)	Diferencias sobre el canto Llano Luis de Mil.n
(c.1500-c.1561)	Pavana and Galliarda Claudio Merulo
(1533-1604)	Toccata Vincenzo Pellegrini (? n 1631)	Canzona per
organo iLa Serpentinai Michael Praetorius (c.1570-1621)	Hymn: iO Lux
beata Trinitasi Paul Hofhaimer (1459-1537)	Recordare Johannes Kotter
(c.1485-1541)	Salve Regina Christian Erbach (c.1571-1635)	Ricercar
secundi toni

Recorded in the Stiftskirches, Ossiach (tracks 1-6) and the Hofkirche,
Innsbruck (tracks 7-15) in 1968, 1980 and 1981 Apex 2564-60446-2

Apex have cobbled this recital disc together from various sessions
recorded by the notable Austrian organist Herbert Tachezi. The title of
Renaissance Organ Music is accurate insofar as the music dates from a
period covering the 15th, 16th and early 17th centuries, but is somewhat
wilful in that this view of the renaissance centres almost exclusively
on developments in keyboard music in southern Europe n with the
exception of the last two tracks all the composers represented are
Italian or Iberian. Anybody unfamiliar with organ developments buying
such a disc cold is going to find the diet lacking in variety as the
greatest developments in organ building occurred in the northern lands.
Not to be found here the great pedal reeds of the 16th century Germanic
or Netherlandish instruments n this is all music on a much smaller scale
performed on instruments that have no lack of character, but perhaps do
lack something in the variety of sounds available. There is an abundance
of very bright principles, even brighter mixtures and some attractively
chiffy flutes, but a prevalence towards 8i and 4i combinations of
principals, and whole works played on a 4i flute does become monotonous.
Only a couple of very pungent reeds in the Pavana and Galliarda by Luis
de Mil.n and a characterful krummhorn that appears briefly at the
beginning of the Kotter Salve Regina relieve the soundscape.

That having been said, Herbert Tachezi is a stylistically engaging
champion of this repertoire. His playing sparkles with virtuosity and
the dexterity with which he brings out the lines of counterpoint on
instruments without pedals is impressive. Witness the tortuous lines of
the Capriccio cromatico by Tarquinio Merula, or the delightfully
rhythmic chuffing of the Vincenzo Pellegrini Canzona iLa Serpentinai.
These pieces of technical panache contrast with moments of serenity and
contemplation as found for example in the Frescobaldi Toccata per
liElevatione, a central point of the Roman Mass that was often
accompanied by ethereal music.

It can be argued that the programme is not as varied as it could be, and
indeed the very bright, almost strident sound of the organs becomes
wearing after a while. On the other hand there is detail in the
execution, which provides new facets on repeat visits, even if the
repertoire is fairly limited in its variety of styles. It must be borne
in mind, of course, that southern European organ building and playing in
the 17th century developed along completely independent lines to, and
for different functions from, that of the better known North European
schools represented by Sweelinck or Buxtehude, and which lead ultimately
to Bach. However, certain crossing points do emerge; variations on
popular tunes being one. Frescobaldiis Partite undecima sopra liAria di
Monicha bears immediate comparison with the Ballo del Gran Duca of
Sweelinck and shows no less a level of invention.

The instruments on which Tachezi plays are presumably examples of 16th
century organ building, but the accompanying notes to the disc are scant
in information about the instruments, to say the least. In fact they are
only named in the tiniest of letters on the back of the CD case. This is
a distinct oversight, particularly given that the information about the
composers that is given in the body of the booklet is hardly detailed or
useful in understanding the music.

As a recital disc of early, southern European organ music, there is much
to admire in Tacheziis performance, and at Apexis super-budget price
this disc can be considered good value. For the general purpose
listener, however, there is a lack of variety of sound and given that
many listeners expect something of the sense of grandeur in their organ
music, this somewhat variety-lacking collection of small-scale pieces is
probably more recommendable for fans of Tachezi, or for serious organ
music collectors only.

(c) 2004 Peter Wells

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