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The Turin organist-composer Giovanni Pelazza (1847-1936), following a period in France, spent his final years in Buenos Aires where his works apparently included an oratorio about Christopher Columbus. The music left behind by Pelazza provides no surprises for anyone familiar with the bel canto style as found in the organ music of Morandi, Padre Davide, Petrali et al, and for which the Serassi organ type (here tuned in 1/6 comma meantone to occasionally surprising effect) is so well suited. While the affinity with orchestral colour in the (still single manual) organ is developing – bells (heard regularly), tromboni, corno inglese et al – this is repertoire still untouched by the Cecilian reform of Italian sacred music and just pre-dating the German influence on late 19th-century Italian organ writing exhibited by the sonatas of Pblibio Fumagalli, teacher of Enrico Bossi (whom, mind-bendingly, Pelazza outlived for 11 years). If, like me, you find the marches and polkas outstay their welcome very quickly, it must be said that Fabio Macera knows exactly how to play this music with an appropriate sense of theatre, and understands brilliantly its relationship with the historic, idiosyncratic organ heard here.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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