Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Terra Sancta Organ Festival on line - Sr.Cecilia Pia Manelli and Lucia D'Anna perform works of Italian Baroque composers


“Concerto Italiano”, an event of the Terra Sancta Organ Festival, held in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute, the Fondazione Terra Santa of Milan, the Christian Media Center and filmed at the Church of St. Peter, Jaffa, Israel, was presented on-line on October 8th, 2020. Both performing artists - organist Sr. Cecilia Pia Manelli and ‘cellist Lucia D’Anna - are Italians residing in Jerusalem. The unique feature of the Terra Sancta Organ Festival is that it takes place in churches and shrines of the Holy Land and in other locations where the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land have been active for centuries. With organ music perceived as specifically Christian, the pipe organ being present almost exclusively in churches, the festival is also an opportunity to promote the maintenance of organs and the study of the instrument, necessary for the liturgy.

Dating from 1847, the small organ of St. Peter’s Church was constructed by the Agati Nicomede e Fratelli de Pistoïa workshop (Italy) and has since been completely rebuilt by D. Taboada, head of the organ workshop at the Holy Saviour Franciscan Monastery in Jerusalem. Built of grey-painted wood with gold stripes, the facade of the organ case is open and exposes the Principal stop.

For the all-Italian program, the artists performed a representative selection of Baroque da chiesa sonatas written by major composers - Domenico Gabrielli (one of the earliest known virtuoso ‘cellists), Francesco Geminiani, Benedetto Marcello and Antonio Vivaldi, as well as a virtuosic work by the somewhat lesser-known Giuseppe Jacchini, himself a ‘cellist and a pupil of Gabrielli. Listeners enjoyed ensemble playing that was attentive, finely balanced, unmannered and well contrasted, with both players taking into account the expressive potential and differences of the two instruments. As to the solo pieces, Sr. Cecilia Pia Manelli performed a Capriccio by Tarquinio Merula, Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata K380 (frequently heard played on the harpsichord but sounding lively and playful on the organ), the Bergamasca from Girolamo Frescobaldi’s “Fiori musicali”, with the artist displaying the composer’s emphasis on expression, ornamentation, flexibility of pulse and metre, and a Toccata by Francesco Feroci, in which Manelli engaged a variety of registers to highlight the contrasting character of the work’s different sections. As a composer, Domenico Gabrielli was influential in liberating the violoncello from its role as an undifferentiated bass instrument, allowing its individual characteristics to shape the music written for it as it came to replace the viola da gamba in Italy by the end of the 17th century and in the course of the 18th century. Probably composed for Gabrielli's own use, the 7 Ricercare, composed in Bologna in the 1660s, bear the character of etudes and are technically very demanding. D’Anna’s scrupulous and personal playing of Ricercar No.7 took the listener with her on the work’s musical journey, giving spontaneous expression to its varied agenda, melodic content, florid passages and its double- and triple stopping.

With degrees in Performance (piano, organ) and Composition, Sr. Cecilia Pia Manelli, of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, holds a doctorate in Gregorian Chant. A renowned teacher and choir director, she serves as organist of the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem.  Lucia D’Anna  graduated  from the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana with a Bachelor's degree in Performance and Masters in Music Pedagogy. A former member of the Verdi Symphony Orchestra of Milan, she presently teaches ‘cello at the Magnificat Institute, Jerusalem and plays the viola da gamba. 



1 comment:

Judith Cohen said...

Why didn't we know anything about this interesting concert?

Judith Cohen