Pier Damiano Peretti

Unter der Spanischen Krone

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This is something of a mixed bag of organ music from the sixteenth and (mostly) seventeenth centuries. Only a bit over half of it is from Spain, with music from other countries introduced to demonstrate vague "similarities, but differences as well." The music covers a broad span of time and doesn't tell you much about the Spanish crown or its golden age. Despite booklet notes that lead off with a discussion of organ building in Spain, the instrument played by organist Pier Damiano Peretti is in northern Germany. For an hour of listening to organ music, however, the disc serves remarkably well. The organ (from the St. Johannis Court and City Church in Hannover) does indeed have the "reeds with colorful timbres" Peretti attributes to Spanish organs (hear especially the final tiento by Pablo Bruna), and the program introduces some little-known Spanish composers. Peretti brings in several works with heavy ornamentation that he attributes to possible lingering Arabic influence in Spanish music, and he contrasts the longer, quasi-improvisatory tientos (the word has the sense of "attempts") with polyphonic works of various kinds. The first of the two tientos by Bruna (track 8) is unmeasured and is an absorbing piece of totally free fantasy. Another highlight is the group of pieces by Neapolitan composer Giovanni Salvatore, who, on the evidence of passages in the Salve regina heard here, was something of a keyboard counterpart to Carlo Gesualdo, with extreme dissonance used in ways that exploit the organ's mean-tone tuning. Plenty of technical detail is provided for organ aficionados, but general listeners will also find much to enjoy here -- not least the unique map-portrait of "Karl V as Europe" included on page 13 of the booklet.

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