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This recording is a high-minded and admirable survey of the scraps of Sardinian organ music left to us from the late 18th and 19th centuries. Sardinian organ culture was essentially a 19th-century phenomenon and, understandably, was cut offfrom the mainstream of Italian, never mind European, development. This recording is produced in the context of the establishment of an active Laboratorio for historic organs on the island, and of an organ programme at the Conservatorio in Cagliari. The 18-year-old performer here is a Conservatorio student and she plays the colourful instrument (which could easily be 100 years older) with great skill. Charmingly, the breaks for stop changes are captured; the whole feels very authentic. By the late 19th century, even on Sardinia, there were clamourings for the elimination of operatic music from the church. The musical tradition on the island was largely an oral one, partly based in the folk music of the island. As a result of both influences, the literature so splendidly researched and performed here is trite even by the standards of 19th-century Italy, the incongruous Fugue by Gallisay aside. This is brilliantly played and documented, and offers ample evidence of a passion for local organ culture, but the music is, nonetheless, extremely parochial.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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