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Back in 2006 and 2007, the 2012 outright winner of ECHO’s Alkmaar Organ Competition, Manuel Tomadin, performed and produced a series of Handel recordings as part of an ongoing project to catalogue the historic organs of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Northern Italy. now anthologised and presented in crystal-clear sound by Fugatto, as befits a composer who spent four fruitful formative years in Italy, Handel’s music from Ptolemy, Acis and Galatea, Esther, Samson, and Giustino sits well on the vivid muscularity of the 1827 Zani organ (opus 1) of SS. Cosma e Damiano, Ciconnico, the 1788 Comelli instrument of S. Maria Assunta, Fagagna (also opus 1), and Gaetano Callido’s 1791 organ for SS. Pietro e Paulo, Villalta. of special interest is the overture and seven arias from Rinaldo, arranged originally for harpsichord in 1717 by William Babell. But this recording is much more than a historical document – Tomadin, whose technique and musicianship never fails to impress, invests every single bar with the kind of attention to detail and nuanced playing which it would be hard to reproduce in any choral concert or operatic performance of the original material.

One of the more unusual and absorbing by-products of the 2013 Verdi bicentenary is this collection of contemporary arrangements of opera and other music by Verdi, researched and performed by Lieuwe Tamminga on three organs in Roncole, Saliceto and Trevozzo which were regularly played by the young ‘Peppino’ Verdi. a musicological narrative suggested by liner-note writer Dino Rizzo points to the 19th-century Church’s struggle with organists’ desire to infiltrate opera-style music into the liturgy, a process encouraged by the availability of ‘Banda Turca’ and other percussion effects stops on many organs inherited from the 18th century. But the listener can just sit back and enjoy entering the rackety-clanky soundworld of restored and unrestored organs by Bossi and Cavaletti dating back to 1775, as Tamminga performs music from Aïda, La Forza del Destino, La Traviata, Macbeth, Il Trova- tore, and the final Fugue from Falstaff. an arrangement of a quartet from Oberto is performed on a 1588 Francesco Poggi spinet similar to one owned by Verdi; non-opera music is represented by Valzer, originally a piano piece later elaborated by Nino Nota in Luchino Visconti’s 1963 film Il Gattopardo, and the Ave Maria from the Four Sacred Pieces; the programme ends with a full-on arrangement of ‘Ballabili’, dances from act III of Otello, for which an exuberant Tamminga is joined by percussionists Valentino Marré and Mirko Natalizi. The notes contain organ specs, registrations and full details of the musical sources.

GRAEME KAY Read the full review on Agora Classica

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