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The remarkably well-preserved renaissance organ of the Badia Fiorentina abbey is here taken on a trip around Europe by its resident organist, former Amsterdam Conservatory student Giovanna Riboli. Blest with a glorious radiance, enhanced by the quarter-comma meantone tuning, it gives a real sense of the listener witnessing the early flourishings of the European organ culture, the common elements of an aesthetic stretching from Rome (represented here by Frescobaldi) to Amsterdam (Sweelinck) and even Seville (Correa) touchingly expressed by a timeless monument. Riboli’s playing will, nevertheless, be too mercurial for some. For me, her rhythmical rhetoric is more successful in Frescobaldi’s Partita sopra l’aria di Fiorenza and Toccata nona from the Secondo libro than in Sweelinck, or in Byrd’s amazing BK 62 Fantasia. This last emerges somewhat fragmented, as does the second tiento from Correa’s Facultád – one of the few reminiscent of the ‘humanist’ fantasia and not requiring the divided keyboard.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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