horizontal line

The organ culture of the Philippines is known internationally for just one instrument, the famous bamboo organ built in 1824 in Las Piñas by Diego Cera. The present-day organ scene in the Philippines can consider itself grateful both to Cealwyn Tagle, whose organ building workshop operates under Cera’s name and who restored or reconstructed every one of the six organs heard on these discs; and to the intrepid Guy Bovet, whose tireless enthusiasm for all aspects of international organ culture lies at the root of these highly engaging discs.

The instruments in question are all small organs dating from between 1814 and 1894 and, with one exception, are related to the Iberian styles of organ building common in the 18th century, with chamades and divided stops.

The breadth of repertoire chosen by Bovet is exceptional; in addition to the expected 17th-century Spanish repertoire (including Pablo Bruna and the divine Correa de Arauxo), some very rustic 18th-century music from Italy, Spain and South America is juxtaposed with contemporary literature and improvisations. Bovet’s zany sense of humour is evident both in these and in his compositions. No less eccentric is the lengthy 62nd Sonata of Padre Antonio Soler, which concludes the wide-ranging CD featuring the evocative-sounding bamboo organ.

The CD featuring the 1894 (Spanish) Hermanos organ at Hippo Parish Church in Bacong is the most problematic: by Bovet’s own admission, there is very little repertoire for the small Spanish romantic organ type, in this instance containing a single manual and only the Cornet as a treble-only stop. Largely drawn from an 1855 collection Museo organic español, the music tends towards the soporific. However, Bovet’s sheer tenacity in making these recordings a reality, his extensive musical insights and the beauty and novelty of the organs featured (which, some tuning issues aside, are clearly in fine fettle) ensure this is a valuable release. The fact that proceeds from its sale will go towards the education of young organists in the Philippines further compels the curious to invest.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

   Read full review   

To continue reading, please upgrade to a premium account. You will have immediate full access.

Read more classical music reviews online here:

Choir & Organ, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing