Frescobaldi: Musiche inedite dai “Codici Chigi”

CD cover of Ivana Valotti playing Frescobaldi on organ

Ivan Valotti
Tactus TC 580609

It is quite a thought – though a distracting one in this particular context – that Monteverdi knew the sound of this organ, the 1565 Antegnati in Santa Barbara, Mantua. And utterly splendid it is, a rich and full chorus with more than enough variety even for this programme of 31 mainly short pieces. The tuning is quarter-comma meantone (so a few ‘startling’ moments in chromatic passages e. g., the Toccata per organo track 22) and the pitch 462. I quite enjoyed the ‘clunks’ when stops were added or silenced during a piece, though I do wonder if this is historically appropriate, even though everything is within the player’s comfortable reach – not always the case with historic instruments.

The repertoire is music by or at least attributed to Frescobaldi in the Chigi Codex and not published in his lifetime. It is all now published (2017) and we are given volume/page numbers for our own easy reference. There is a blanket ‘World Première Recording’ claim.

I enjoyed the recital very much. The recording is close enough to allow us to appreciate the clarity of the player’s articulation and part-playing while also giving a sense of the building. Tempi are well chosen, allowing both the nobility and display that characterise this music. These pieces do not alter our perception of Frescobaldi one way or the other and in some cases might be the shavings that fell from his workbench, but we should thank the Complete Edition and Ivana Vallotti for sweeping them up.

The booklet (in Italian and English) contains a ten-page essay that both puts the music in its context and offers observations on individual pieces. But the instrument is the star of the show.

David Hansell