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Ivana Valotti here presents an impassioned and worthy plea for the music of the 16th-century Italian organist-composer Girolamo Cavazzoni. I wonder how many readers were, like me, unaware of Cavazzoni’s close relationship with the great Antegnati dynasty of organ builders, themselves so integral to the early development of the European organ. In turn, asserts Valotti, Cavazzoni is integral to the early separation of instrumental and vocal styles. Remarkably Cavazzoni supervised the construction, and was then organist, of the organ in Mantua on which this complete cycle was recorded. It features an early example of sub-semitones, probably specified by Cavazzoni. His two volumes of organ music include Ricercars, a pair of Canzonas based on French chansons, hymns, Magnificats and Mass settings, intended for alternatim performance: on this recording the chant is sung with great fluidity and reverence by Gianluca Ferrarnini. Valotti’s playing style, with its very sophisticated variety of touch, is rhetorically mercurial and some may find that her ‘speech rhythms’ with their delayed down beats upset the linear aspect of this music. Whatever your reaction, Valotti’s contribution in championing this music, both through her playing and in her excellent booklet essay, deserves our attention.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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