Cimarosa: 21 Organ Sonatas

Apart from being a prolific composer of operas (Il Matrimonio Segreto being the best known of his “romcoms”) Domenico Cimarosa also turned out a sizeable quantity of keyboard sonatas. These were designed to be played on the fortepiano, but Andrea Chezzi makes a credible case for their translation to the organ. Cimarosa’s musical education included learning the organ, and it was common to hear opera transcriptions or domestic keyboard music played on the organ in his day.

With its origins in the early- to mid-18th century, the sweet-toned organ at a church in Brugneto di Reggioli in northern Italy has a sufficiently varied tonal palette to maintain interest across these 21 short works. Further variety is achieved by fast and slow, loud and soft, but the majority of these works centre on right-hand melodic elaboration supported by simple harmonies, and are best savoured, like bonbons, a few at a time. The organ’s reed stops are a little “quaint” but luckily well tuned for this recording.

Some of the music is particularly charming, such as the Sonata in G Minor (C61) with its slowly spun, plaintive melody; or the Sonata in A Minor (C58) which is an arrangement of part of the overture for his 1777 opera, Fanatico per gli Antichi Romani. Chezzi’s accomplished playing displays a fine technique and plenty of empathy for the 18th-century style. The engineering captures the church’s resonance while delivering admirable clarity.