Perosi’s organ compositions belongs to the youth period during the last decade of the XIX century. At that time being an organ player was absolutely preparatory for everyone who wanted to master and study the sacred music liturgy: the organ composition, sometimes even just musical miniatures, was therefore perfect for didactic use and, at the same time, to the liturgy. In Montecassino Abbey, from November 1890 to July 1891, he was theory and solfeggio teacher and organ player. Then he studied at the Conservatoire of Milan and in 1893 he finished the six-month course at Kirchenmusikschule in Regensburg, directed by Franz Xaver Haberl, who, noticed his musical value, tried to have him as organ professor. His organ competence was used for organ tests, inaugural concerts and was confirmed in 1894 by the invitation to become organ player in Parma. Le cause determinanti della mia vocazione artistica sono tre: l’una musicale, l’altra nazionale, la terza cristiana. Prima ragione. Quando mi misi a scrivere erano da noi in voga solo opere e operette. Pensai che bisognava elevare la musica facendola applaudire nell’oratorio. Seconda ragione. Volevo che il paese di Palestrina non divenisse melodicamente un paese sterile ed assunsi l’impresa di una rinascita che consideravo in qualche modo patriottica. Terza ragione. Molti ignorano attualmente che Gesù Cristo sia esistito. Ho creduto farlo conoscere nella lingua dei suoni, lingua popolare per eccellenza. (Interview released by Perosi to Le Figaro) Among the lines emerges the discomfort for a reality that accompany him most of all during his training years: a music reality that spoke in a theatrical language, even in sacred music. For several decades organ literature had lived on this dependence and the turning point, attested by the rejection of theatrical modules, from the yearning of new organ composition and from the search for new compositional styles, coincides with the period of musical growth of the young Perosi, who, since the first compositional trials, adopted European modules. The organ pieces, some ordered in collections (20 orgel trio, Centonum), others in their own right, are presented with the obliged pedal: the author evidently turned his gaze elsewhere, perhaps mindful of the musical experiences of Regensburg where there were German-made organs with multiple keyboards and extended pedals. In these compositions, often very brief and evidently intended for liturgical use, multiple aspects are identified: the intimate picture, the elaboration of a Gregorian theme, the improvisational gash, the contrapuntal faded development and the recovery of classical structures. A constant restlessness animates these pages and the yearning for a renewal of one’s musical idiom is obvious. On 8 June 1894 he was given the job of choirmaster in the Basilica of S. Marco in Venice, on 15 December 1898 he was appointed by perpetual deputy director of the Pontifical musical chapel ‘Sistine’ by Leone XIII and on 1 January 1902 he will become the unique director. The position of kappelmeister will definitively divert Lorenzo Perosi from the composition of organ music, but his propensity for organ improvisation will never fail. The songs presented in this double CD come from three sources: 1. Compositions for organ, collection curated by Giacomo Bellucci and published by Carrara in 1974 2. 20 Orgel Trio zum studium und zu kichlichem Gewbrauche componirt von L. P., Ed. F. Pustet, 1984 3. The transcriptions by M. E. Bossi of Passione secondo S. Marco and Oratorio della Trasfigurazione, Vol. 8 tomo I of Marco Enrico Bossi’s Opera Omnia, Ed. Carrara, 2013 In source 1 there are several compositions written by Perosi at the beginning of his career: the Prelude in F major (4/3/1890), the Prelude in E flat major (7/3/1890) the Prelude in G major and the Prelude in E minor are short but very significant pieces, in which we find an interesting use of the obliged pedal and also of the double pedal in a period in which still the vast majority of the organs in Italy still had the pedaliera a leggio. The Preludes present very sought-after and not at all obvious harmonic solutions with which the young Perosi explores the boundaries of tonal stability with tight and daring modulations. The Interludio sopra il Communio “Viderunt omnes” and the Offertorio sopra il “Veni Creator Spiritus”, the latter published inside the method L’organista di chiesa by Luigi Bottazzo and Oreste Ravanello (published by Leonardo Da Vinci Publishing house, Milan in 1896 and always republished in Milan by Bertarelli & C around 1903) show the extreme mastery that Perosi had of the intrinsic nature of the Gregorian Chant: already before him, Filippo Capocci in Office Divin (published by Frédéric Pustet in Rome and engraved by the writer himself for Elegia Classics Eleorg 031) had given proof of mastery in the harmonization of the Gregorian melodies with refined late romantic harmonies, but the young Perosi alternates with remarkable mastery elegant romantic cadences with modal harmonization cues. In Offertorio there is then the central section in which Cantus Firmus is presented at wide values on the pedal, an evident organ suggestion learned in the years of study in Germany. From the scale named in the Anglo-Saxon manner with the LA indicated with the letter A and imagining the other letters of the alphabet coupled with the subsequent notes, Perosi derives the theme from his surname: P = Sol, E = Mi, R = Si, O = Fa #, S = S, I = Si that will develop in the short animated Fugato, tight in writing and even virtuosic when compared to the usual Perosian level that flows into a grandiloquent ending in Organo Pleno. The Te Deum - Ricercare per organo (1893) is a very dense, enigmatic, introspective piece, conducted with careful and strict counterpoint writing. The XX trio by Perosi were thus reviewed in La scuola veneta di musica sacra, 1894, p. 29: I XX Trio del Perosi possono servire mirabilmente quali preludi, interludi e postludi a scopo liturgico: tanto più che i temi di essi, per la maggior parte, sono tolti dal Canto gregoriano. The didactic validity of these passages is remarkable, because from the clear contrapuntal conduct derives a total independence of the three parts; in the present record the trios have been performed that expressly mentioned Gregorian themes: Statuit, Ecce Sacerdos magnus, Te lucis ante terminum, Te Deum laudamus, Magnificat and Ecce video. Marco Enrico Bossi, linked to Perosi by a profound personal friendship, created in 1899 transcriptions of large portions of Passione secondo S. Marco per soli, coro e orchestra, and of the oratory La Trasfigurazione di N. S.Gesù Cristo per soli, coro, organo e orchestra. Bossi does not fully transcribe the works, but only the following numbers: La Passione di Cristo secondo S. Marco • Part one – La cena del Signore: Andante (cantus firmus Lauda Sion), Unus ex duodecim, Et hymno dicto (cantus firmus Lauda Sion) • Part two – L’orazione al Monte: Dormite jam • Part three – La morte del redentore: Preludio, Le tenebre, La morte, Coro Finale La Trasfigurazione di N. S. Gesù Cristo • Part one – La Trasfigurazione: Prelude, Et statim circumspicientes (cantus firmus Regnavit Dominus), II variazione • Second part – La Liberazione dell’ossesso: Le smanie, Et frequenter eum, Finale (cantus firmus Creator Alme Siderum) The organ expertise by Marco Enrico Bossi makes the transcriptions particularly effective for listening, while remaining very to the Perosian text. In them the great knowledge that Perosi and Bossi had of both the music of J. S. Bach and of the late romantic writing for the organ of the German school is very evident. The treatment of the various Canti firmi is fluent and is inserted into the harmonic tissue with remarkable spontaneity. The choice of numbers made by Bossi also gives the transcriptions a formal balance that makes them very pleasant for concert viewing.
Additional info about this CD
in Cattedrale di Cefalù, Palermo, Italy, on may 2019.
16 pages full colour booklet (Ita and Eng).
Full organ specs card included.