Girolamo Frescobaldi was the most significant figure in Italian keyboard music before Scarlatti. He worked in the city of Ferrara in northern Italy, a hotbed of progressive influences, particularly in the fields of singing, instrumental performance and musical rhetoric. Frescobaldi was, therefore, ideally placed to absorb the influences of Flanders, Rome, Naples and nearby Venice and, influenced by advances in keyboard technology and performance techniques, developed his mastery of both organ and harpsichord.
Volume 10 in the Brilliant Classics Frescobaldi Edition is focused particularly on the 1608 Il Primo libro delle Fantasie a Quattro, composed when Frescobaldi was organist at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is dedicated to Francesco Borghese, brother of Pope Paul V, a shrewd move by the composer, and was his first keyboard work to be published. Strongly contrapuntal in nature, these fantasias are musically complex, constructed using several melodic themes and contrasting sections. The fantasies on this recording are interspersed with seven canzonas. The remaining canzonas can be heard on CD2 among the Canzoni alla Francese.
On this recording, Roberto Loreggian improvises briefly at the beginning of each canzona, following the custom of the time, using Frescobaldi’s own toccatas as models. The canzonas date from 1615–45, and demonstrate the composer’s style developing and maturing over this 30-year span, creating music of extraordinary imagination and technical inventiveness.
- Recording made in 2010
- Excellent liner notes, written by a Frescobaldi scholar
- Other volumes in the Brilliant Classics Frescobaldi edition include Fiori Musicali - 3 Organ Masses (93781), Il primo Libro di Capricci (94020) and Il Primo Libro di Recercari (94049), also performed by Roberto Loreggian