Grand 19th century organ music from an unknown Italian composer, including an alternative take on ‘The Four Seasons’.
Carlo Andrea Gambini (1819-1865) was passed over by the compilers of Grove’s dictionary, and almost none of his diverse output has been preserved on record. Here, then, is a marvellous chance to catch up with the thoroughly entertaining work of a musician, Genoese born and bred. He was no organ specialist but a musician of diverse talents who composed for the stage, with at least three operas to his name, the concert-hall, including symphonic tone-poems and concert-overtures.
His extant output, however, centres on church music. L’organo moderno Op.106 is a collection of 24 versets for organ: brief pieces of hugely varied character, designed as inserts to cover or accompany variousstages of the Mass that would otherwise be silent. Gambini is an imaginative composer for the organ’s timbral possibilities: flutes, horns, bassoons, and Vox Humana stops are all given solo spots. These are then further exploited in the Concertone per molti stromenti, which features folk-like melodies.
In his own booklet introduction to Gambini, Marco Ruggeri explains that he has chosen to arrange some of the composer’s piano music for organ, such as excerpts from the Capricci caratteristici Op.55 and the Scintille elettriche Op.90, whose work-titles (chorale, toccata and so on) suggest a compatibility with the organ. Le Quattro Stagioni Op.128 was composed at a time when Vivaldi’s now ubiquitous cycle of concertos was completely unknown. Made up of four parts, one for each season, the work expresses the composer’s perceptions of nature (evoking birdsong, storms and ice), and of seasonal rituals, both sacred and secular (hunting in autumn, a prayer following a summer storm, winter dances).
The organ music of lesser-known, 19th-century Italian composers has been explored by Marco Ruggeri on several Brilliant Classics albums devoted to Giovanni Morandi (BC95333), Vincenzo Petrali (BC95160) and Polibio Fumagalli (BC95468). This last disc won a warm recommendation from MusicWeb International: it is ‘played superbly by Marco Ruggeri, who has Fumagelli's style very well covered from witty to serious… The recordings are excellent in both locations.’ Here he plays on the instrument built by Ernesto Lingiardi in 1854 for the Church of St. Vittore, Calcio, in the Lombardian province of Bergamo.
Carlo Andrea Gambini (1819-1865) was born in Genua, Italy. His talent was recognized at an early age and he developed into one of the most prominent concert pianists of his time.
As a composer Gambini was a son of his time, his style is highly romantic, influenced by the Italian opera and its grandiloquence, pomp and sentiment. Gambini’s friendship with the famous organ builder family Lingiardi led him to compose extensively for the organ. This new recording presents a collection of character pieces like Toccata, Pastorale, Corale, Passeggiata, Elevation, March, a Finale and the complete cycle of “L’Organo moderno, 24 versetti per organo”, short pieces well suited for liturgical use, technically demanding and using the full possibilities of the organs in use at the time.
Played on the Lingiardi organ of 1854 of San Vittore, Calcio, Italy, a magnificent instrument which Gambini was familiar with. All specification of the instrument are included in the booklet.