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American Record Guide: (01/2020) 
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Brilliant Classics

Bonelli: Complete Keyboard Music Product Image

Code-barres / Barcode : 5028421958163


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Reviewer: Mark L. Lehman

Aurelio Bonelli (c1569-after 1620) was from Bologna, working as both a composer and a painter. This small collection of pieces was printed in Venice in 1602. Not knowing the composer’s identity, a listener might guess that these are by one of the Gabrielis. Most of the compositions are four-part counterpoint, with points of imitation. They could be played either by a keyboardist or an ensemble. Four of them are eight-part pieces, and Federico del Sordo recorded those in two sessions to simulate the use of two antiphonally-placed organs. He blended those recordings together in an editing studio. Del Sordo’s liner notes claim that someone else produced an edited score of some pieces, and then he himself edited the rest of them for publication. This recording is complementary to those books, helping to publicize the work of this interesting composer. For the recording, Del Sordo did almost everything himself: he made his edition; performed, engineered, and produced the recordings; wrote the notes, and even took the photographs. He played organ for 12 pieces, harpsichord for 6, and clavichord for the other 2. There seems to be no compelling reason to choose one instrument over another, other than variety in the program. The harpsichord and clavichord have drifted out of tune a little bit for one piece each near the end.

The organ is in Umbria, built in 1680. It belongs to a Benedictine convent. It has eight stops and it is tuned in 1/6 comma meantone. Its pedalboard has only nine notes, and there is not much occasion to use it in these pieces. Del Sordo plays this with brisk articulation and fast tempos. He sounds better at organ and clavichord than harpsichord, where he could bring more expressive range to his timing and releases of the notes. The brief remarks about this harpsichord in the essay suggest that its unusual tone comes from the use of iron strings (instead of any brass). I suspect most of the cause of that tone is different. Its plucking point is so far from the end of the string that this sounds more like a virginal than a typical harpsichord. I’d like to hear more from Del Sordo, perhaps playing some of Christian Erbach’s organ music—contemporary with and similar to this.

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