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Domenico ZIPOLI (1688 - 1726): "Complete Keyboard Music"

Laura Farabollini, harpsichorda; Carlo Guandalino, organb

rec: Nov 20 - 22, 2014, Castelnuovo Scrivia, Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo
Brilliant Classics - 95212 (2 CDs) ( 2016) (2.28'30")
Liner-notes: E
Cover & track-list

Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713), arr Domenico ZIPOLI: Sonata in d minor, op. 5,7b; Domenico ZIPOLI: All'Elevazione (I) in Fb; All'Elevazione (II) in Cb; All'Offertorio in Cb; Al Post Comunio in Fb; Canzona in Cb; Canzona in d minorb; Canzona in e minorb; Canzona in Fb; Canzona in g minorb; Partite in Ca; Partite in a minora; Pastorale in Cb; Suite in Ca; Suite in d minora; Suite in g minora; Suite in b minora; Toccata in d minorb; Versi in Cb; Versi in d minorb; Versi in Fb; Versi in f minorb; Versi in g minorb

Most music lovers will know the name of Domenico Zipoli. He is almost exclusively known for his keyboard music. Thanks to the increasing interest in early music from Latin America his vocal music has received some attention recently as he moved to settle in Argentina from his native Italy in 1716.

Zipoli was born in Prato where he received his first musical education. Through the Cathedral's choirmasters, who were both from Florence, he got the opportunity to study with the organist of Florence Cathedral, Giovanni Maria Casini. In 1708 he participated in the composition of an oratorio. In 1709 he received lessons from Alessandro Scarlatti in Naples but because of disagreements between the two he soon left. After a stay in Bologna he went to Rome where he took lessons from Bernardo Pasquini, the most famous Italian organist of his time. In 1715 he was appointed organist of the Jesuit church in Rome and in 1716 he published the Sonate d'intavolatura, the best-known collection of music from his pen and the subject of the present set of discs.

That same year he joined the order of the Jesuits and then went to Seville to prepare for a journey to Paraguay. In July he arrived at Buenos Aires and then went to Cordoba. In the next years he studied theology and philosophy in order to receive priest's orders but that did not happen as he died of tuberculosis on 2 January 1726. Apart from his keyboard works his oeuvre comprises sacred vocal music, most of which dates from his time in Latin America. The oratorios which he composed back home have been lost; only the librettos are extant.

The Sonate d'intavolatura consist of two parts. The first comprises organ works, mostly intended for liturgical performance. All'Elevazione, Al Post Comunio and All'Offertorio specifically refer to parts of the liturgy. The Versi seem to have been written for the alternatim practice in which the verses of the Mass or a hymn were sung and played in alternation. Lorenzo Ghielmi, in his recording of the organ pieces (Ars Musici, 1999), has practised their liturgical use through the collaboration of a vocal ensemble. The inclusion of some pieces with the name canzona indicates that Zipoli's organ music is rooted in the past: this was a form which was especially popular in the 16th and the early 17th centuries and is dominated by counterpoint. The Toccata in d minor has the traces of the toccatas of Frescobaldi but is more strictly divided into different sections of a contrasting character. The Pastorale is a typical piece for Christmastide with the characteristic siciliano rhythm. Interesting - and probably recorded here for the first time - is Zipoli's transcription of the Sonata in d minor, op. 5,7 for violin and bc by Arcangelo Corelli. It is another token of the huge reputation of the composer who died shortly before Zipoli's arrival in Rome.

Corelli's influence also comes to the fore in the second part of the Sonate d'intavolatura. The full title of this collection is almost identical with that of the second part of Corelli's Sonatas op. 5. This part includes four suites and two Partite, the common term in Italy for a set of variations - again this title refers to Frescobaldi. The suite was a more modern phenomenon and could well be inspired by Zipoli's teacher Pasquini. They consist of four or five (Suite in C) movements: the first is a prelude - in three of the suites almost as long as the other movements together - and a sequence of dances: corrente, sarabanda, giga, gavotte (or gavotta) and minuetto plus a movement called aria. Today Zipoli is considered a 'minor master' but the fact that his keyboard works were reprinted in London in 1725 by John Walsh bears witness to his reputation.

I have already referred to another recording of his organ works. The inclusion of plainchant in some of the liturgical works make Ghielmi's recording particularly interesting. This disc has the bonus of offering the recently discovered Corelli transcription. Carlo Guandalino delivers a very fine performance on a historical organ from 1612 with meantone temperament. The latter makes itself clearly notable in several pieces which include strong dissonants. This aspect only underlines the historical roots of this part of Zipoli's keyboard oeuvre.

I am a little less enthusiastic about the second disc. Laura Farabollini has chosen a French harpsichord which seems a little odd. An Italian instrument, preferably with one manual, would have been a more obvious choice. In the minuetto which closes the Suite in d minor she plays alternatively on the two manuals, one with the harp stop, the other with the 4-foot stop. I can't see any justification for that. Sometimes I found her playing a bit awkward, for instance in the prelude from the Suite in b minor. The Partite come off best. The miking is a bit too close for comfort as at some moments the music is in danger of falling apart. Susan Alexander-Max recorded the suites and partitas on an original Cristofori fortepiano (Albany, 2004); that is certainly a most interesting alternative.

Despite my reservations about the harpsichord suites this set as a whole is worth being taken into consideration by lovers of baroque keyboard music.

Johan van Veen ( 2016)

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