Release date: 24 November 2023
Enrico Pasini is a leading light in the field of Italian organ. His compositions, permeated with a sense of grace and luminosity, act as aural reflections on life’s tapestry. From the initial chords of his pieces, be they preludes, lyrical songs, or fantasies, one discerns that they stem from deep-seated inspiration rather than mere technique. His captivating Cantabiles convey tales, evoking the impressionistic nuances reminiscent of Debussy. His most renowned piece, “For You”, enjoys global recognition and is performed in diverse adaptations. As with Bach’s compositions, when both music and narrative spring forth from the soul, they can take on myriad forms and rhythms, bound as they are for timelessness. Pasini’s musical lexicon, while straightforward, is punctuated with precision, fusing neo-romantic contours with elements of true contemporaneity. This amalgamation is characterised by an authentic and noble identity, ever distinct. In the context of Mozart, it has been observed that his intuitive compositions stand alone, for none but he could craft in such a manner, leaving an enduring legacy in the musical annals.
Dedicating my entire life to music and translating life itself into musical notes is what I have always strived to do; this is the essence of my Cantabili and of all my works. Enrico Pasini
Enrico Pasini was born on August 8, 1935, in Rome. His foray into the musical realm commenced at the tender age of six. By the age of eight, his prodigious talents were recognised, leading to his enrolment as an exceptional pupil at the esteemed “S. Cecilia” Conservatory, under the discerning guidance of Professor Alfredo De Ninno. His academic sojourn saw him acquire qualifications in Organ, Piano, and Composition, mentored by luminaries such as Marcella Palazzi, Rina Rossi, Alfredo De Ninno, Ferdinando Ferdinandi, Armando Renzi, Father Alberto Santini, Father Egidio Circelli, and the illustrious Fernando Germani.
Pasini further refined his craft by attending Advanced Courses at the venerated Chigiana Musical Academy located in Siena. During his formative years, he dabbled in an array of musical genres, from the lilting cadences of light music to the improvisational dynamics of jazz. His talents led to collaborations with eminent record establishments, including RCA and Fono Roma, whilst performing alongside the prestigious Santa Cecilia Orchestra.
Significant strides in his musical journey were attributed to fortuitous interactions with Maestros Luciano Chailly and Alberico Vitalini. Alongside his wife, he forged the Pasini-Pennini Piano Duo, with a specialist focus on the repertoire tailored for four hands and dual pianos. His prowess won him the coveted position of Principal Organ Instructor at the “Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina” Conservatory in Cagliari. An embodiment of his passion was the inception of the musical and cultural association “Il Cromorno,” which he helmed for three decades, championing the cause of organ music. His tenure as the titular Organist witnessed the conception of avant-garde events, namely the “Artists’ Mass” and the “International Organ Festival.”
His artistry found resonance beyond national confines, as he performed across various European territories, frequently in the esteemed company of his progeny, the violist Giovanni and flutist Daniele. Collaborative ventures included alliances with the Lyric Theatre of Cagliari, Rai, and Vatican Radio, culminating in a plethora of audio and video recordings, along with the curation of innovative radio broadcasts. His entrepreneurial spirit led to the establishment of two private musical institutions. His compositions, encompassing organ symphonies and other instrumental pieces, found global acclaim. The “Cantabiles,” crafted in his twilight years, garnered particular adulation.
Pasini’s accomplishments were perennially dedicated to his cherished mentor, Armando Renzi, under whose aegis he imbibed the finesse of composition and an unyielding passion for music. He remained an unwavering beacon for aspiring musical prodigies, ardently advocating for classical music’s enduring legacy. Alas, Enrico Pasini’s earthly symphony culminated in his cherished Cagliari on the 10th of April, 2022.
Aria con variazioni
This piece was composed on the occasion of the restoration of the historic organ of Cressa (Mentasti 1876) and is dedicated to Maestro Mario Duella. Crafted in the ‘Theme and Variations’ style, it accentuates the distinct tonal characteristics of the instrument. The ‘theme’ is a straightforward and memorable melody, reminiscent of a Chorale, followed by 8 variations. The piece culminates with the reiteration of the initial theme in a full organ ‘tutti’.
Sonata No. 1
Acquainting oneself with and delving into the oeuvre of Enrico Pasini has reaffirmed my aspiration to fortify the foundational pillars of my musical heritage and discernment. In an age where numerous composers endeavour to distinguish themselves through avant-garde experimentations rather than stylistic flourishes, relegating verdicts to the annals of time, in Pasini, there lies unwavering assurance. He emerges as an erudite scholar of genres and structures, spanning from the strictly formal to the utterly uninhibited. Testaments to this prowess manifest in the impeccable construction of his fugues juxtaposed with the seamless transitions in his preludes. Pasini’s musical vernacular harks back to the grandeur of bygone eras, accentuating the quintessentially Italian ‘bel canto’, and forging a nexus with heartfelt sentiment and candid emotion, ever striving to convey an impression or reminisce to the audience.
Approaching the formidable ‘Sonata No. 1’ was no mere task, given its multifaceted segments and intricate framework that spanned a comprehensive 29 pages. Yet, it undeniably stands shoulder to shoulder with the illustrious organ sonatas of the late Romantic epoch, bearing a style less tempestuous yet uncompromised in merit. Pasini’s intent is lucid: he transposes emotions, lived narratives, and tales into melodic renditions, maintaining a balance that’s seldom overbearing. A euphoric recollection of Como is resurrected through sinuous tunes and divine harmonies. The exposition of the inaugural chorale epitomizes Pasini’s deftness in marrying a tender melody with dissonant harmonies, almost emblematic of his distinct touch. Those 29 pages traverse melodiously, granting the listener the luxury to savour each resonance. I’m ardently convinced that Pasini’s legacy extends beyond the confines of organ music to the broader canvas of musical history. Time, I believe, will duly venerate him. The indomitable impression of his signature style has been etched; and when one discerns the composer within mere measures, a rarity is indeed in presence.
Sonata No. 2
The ‘Sonata No. 2 in D minor’ inaugurates with a section reminiscent of the ‘Theme and Variations’ methodology. The cardinal theme, nuanced and gentle, is elucidated in a Gregorian manner, succeeded by an octet of variations. The inaugural variation is sculpted around the leitmotif B.A.C.H.; the subsequent variation harnesses the ‘organo pleno’, presenting a duo of pedal alternatives; the third is punctuated by a dotted tempo; the fourth evokes a trio-esque aura with diminutive imitations; the fifth unfolds as an elegant minuet; the sixth is underscored by a brisk tempo reserved for the keyboards in isolation; the seventh emanates a languid and poignant aura with a pronounced melodic trajectory; and the eighth culminates with an assertive tempo.
Subsequent to this segment, a triad of bars heralds the chorale ‘Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier’. This chorale interweaves with the foundational theme on quartet occasions, underscored by a chromatic harmonisation that mirrors the inaugural Sonata. A transient suspension paves the way for the fugue, which finds its roots in the chorale’s theme. Articulated with a fluidity and set against a temperate pace, it remains true to the archetype of the classical Bachian fugue, yet it employs a notation that is both liberated and discernibly pianistic in nature. The denouement reconnects with the segment that predates the fugue, replicating the identical construct albeit in a transposed manner, thus sequentially presenting the duo of themes. The final cadence resonates in the key of D major, priming the auditory palette for the ensuing ‘Sonata No. 3’, poised in a congruent key.
Sonata No. 3
The ‘Sonata No. 3 in D major’ for organ epitomizes the concluding segment of an authentic ‘Triptych’, envisaged for execution within a singular concert setting. It commences with an ebullient motif, promptly succeeded by a vigorous and definitive rejoinder emanating from the secondary thematic notion. The premier movement, delineated distinctly from its successor, is predicated upon the oscillation of these dyadic motifs, and is architecturally bifurcated. The ‘Adagio’, evocative of the Feast of St. Michael in Val di Susa and the vista of Musinè, draws parallels to the melodic cadence of ‘Cantabiles’. More expansively, it alludes to those elongated melodic trajectories to which Pasini gravitates, particularly when articulating profound sentiments within languid movements. Subsequently, motifs reminiscent of prior Sonatas surface in fragmented morsels. Within the initial bars of this segment, the thematic amalgamation with a fragment from the 1st Sonata is conspicuously evident. Nonetheless, as the denouement approaches, this element accentuates, integrating the motif from the 2nd Sonata, thereby segueing into the reprise of the ‘Allegro moderato’ from the inaugural movement, rendered in succinct form. This is succeeded by the secondary motif, extrapolated in the guise of a ‘Fugato Trio’ for a finite series of bars. This then bridges to a sweeping melodic expanse of profound gravitas, underscored by brisk semiquavers. A swift reversion to the ‘Fugato Trio’ ensues, ushering in a sequence of triplets progressively steering towards the motif of the premier movement. After a transient series of measures, a subtle nod to the Adagio is made manifest. Subsequently, within a ‘Grandioso’ movement, the musical dialogue unfolds across 11 measures. Herein, all thematic elements and their fragmentary iterations intertwine in an intricate counterpoint, culminating in the resonation, in the bass registers, of the quartet of notes that sonically transcribe the moniker B.A.C.H.
The ‘Cantabili’ by Pasini is a collection of over 200 musical works that encompass a broad spectrum of human experiences, ranging from the most intense joys to the deepest sorrows. Each piece is set against the captivating backdrop of Sardinia, characterized by breathtaking sunsets and a vibrant sea. Among these compositions, ‘For You,’ which was conceived in the picturesque Calamosca Bay in Cagliari, stands out as an iconic piece. It has captured the hearts of listeners worldwide, achieving success that transcends both cultural and geographical boundaries.
Pasini daringly pushes the organ to compete with other instruments, aiming for recognition beyond traditional ecclesiastical settings. The organ, an instrument rich in tonal and expressive nuances, becomes an exceptional medium for secular romantic repertoire. In doing so, it not only challenges musical conventions but also conveys limitless emotions, innovating and enriching the domain of contemporary classical music.
Ivan Ronda studied under Maestro Luigi Toja at the Giuseppe Nicolini Conservatory in Piacenza, graduating with the highest distinction in piano, organ, harpsichord, choral and orchestral conducting; he also received an honorary diploma of merit on completion of his eighth year of advanced study and went on to attend masterclasses in piano and organ, notably with the great French virtuoso Jean Guillou. Central to his repertory are the great works of J S Bach, Mozart, Reger and Liszt. For the labels Fugatto and Brilliant Classics, Ivan Ronda has recorded several CDs on historical organs (Arlesheim Dom, St. Johanniskirche in Luneburg) as well as for Brillian the Handel’s Complete Organ Concertos transcribed for organ solo by Marcel Duprè. He has toured prestigious venues in the UK, performing at King’s College and St John’s College, Cambridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham and Coventry Cathedral. In 2005, he visited South America, performing in cathedrals and basilicas in Montevideo and Buenos Aires, where his Metropolitan Cathedral recital attracted an audience of 1000 people; his recordings have been broadcast on RAI International and Radio Classica Bresciana. He has been invited to perform on ancient and newly-built historical instruments in important organ festivals. Among the few selected organist to play at Como Cathedral, important composers such as Enrico Pasini, Grimoaldo Macchia, Hans André Stamm, Marco Lo Muscio, Andreas Willscher, Carlotta Ferrari, and Carlo Francesco Defranceschi, have composed and dedicated organ works to him.