The organ of the Badia Fiorentina monastery in the centre of Florence is one of the finest surviving examples of an Italian renaissance organ, completed in 1558 by the Tuscan organ builder Onofrio Zeffirini. The characteristically Italian timbre of the organ and its historical temperament make it the perfect instrument for performing repertoire from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. In her own booklet-note introduction to the repertoire on this album, Giovanna Riboli explains that she has chosen a sequence of repertoire to display the organ at its most characteristic, but also to give a guided tour to high-points of European organ music of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. She opens her recital with a pair of toccatas, by the Venetian Gabrieli and the Florentine Frescobaldi, that give voice to the instrument’s most brilliant registers. A variation set by Pasquini enables her to range over the impressive stop-list including rarities such as a Nightingale stop. There are two representatives of the English keyboard school, Byrd and Farnaby, at their most extrovert and virtuosic, and then two substantial pieces by the founder of the North German organ school, Sweelinck, followed by an ‘English masquerade’ by his pupil Scheidemann. Giovanna Riboli rounds off this imaginatively programmed album in reflective mode with the Tiento y discurso de segundo tono by the Spanish composer and organist Francisco Correa de Arauxo. The album’s expressive journey is astutely planned, and her playing of this historic instrument brings out all its antique tone- colors.
This disc, another in the series that Brilliant Classics is devoting to Italian organs and organ music, upholds the high standards of preceding entries for Renaissance and Baroque music. Giovanni Riboli is the skilled executant on this Cook’s tour of 16th- and early 17th-century Western European organ repertoire. The instrument is rather closely recorded, but sounds well. The English-Italian booklet provides detailed notes by Riboli on the organ and the composers, including specifications, along with an artist bio and photos. This is an attractive recital disc, and recommended accordingly.