You'd really have to be read up on your organ music to have any familiarity with Italian organist and composer Costanzo Antegnati, who lived in the second half of the sixteenth century and the first quarter of the seventeenth. Despite suffering a stroke around 1600, Antegnati continued as principal organist at the cathedral at Brescia until his death in 1624 and published at least 16 early prints of organ music, most being lost, but two -- L'Arte Organica (1608) and Nova Musicae Organicae Tabulatura (1617) are included here on Tactus' Costanza Antegnati: L'Antegnata. Organist Paul Kenyon intertwines the 16 Canzoni of L'Arte Organica with the 15 Ricercare of Nova Musicae and plays the whole on a fascinating-sounding renaissance organ built in 1556 by Giovanni Cipri. However, Antegnati was a prominent member of an organ-building family who installed several hundred organs throughout Europe over a period of two centuries. With the very organ Antegnati played still intact in Brescia itself; one wonders why none of the surviving instruments was considered suitable for making this recording.
That is a minor matter, though, in comparison to the effect Paul Kenyon's interpretation has on the music. He takes ornaments at a hyper-fast speed that isn't consistent, and this constantly breaks up the pattern of the music, resulting in brief passages in common time interrupted by jumbles of notes that don't seem to make any rhythmic sense. The pulse, likewise, seems inordinately variable in unornamented passages as well. Without seeing Antegnati's print before one's eyes it is impossible to tell if there is a valid basis for such extreme rhythmic flexibility, but to the ear these figures sound so impossible that one can't imagine them being correct in Antegnati's time, or anyone's. The music seldom establishes enough baseline for the listener to evaluate what is really going on, though what one can deduce from more regularly played pieces such as the Canzona Le Regonasca is that the music is supposed to be light, pleasant, and undemanding. Nothing here seems as challenging as what one might expect from Frescobaldi, who represents a later generation of keyboard players anyway.
Tactus has introduced along the way some very striking and important albums of early keyboard music, for example Roberto Loreggian's remarkable disc of totally unknown Frescobaldi acolyte Giovan Battista Ferrini. L'Antegnata, however, makes one wonder: did Tactus really listen to this disc before releasing it?