This is the lesser-known Cirri, Ignazio of that ilk, elder brother of the Giovanni Battista who after taking holy orders pursued a diverse career as a cellist and composer, and who in 1764, perhaps aided by Ignazio’s contacts, settled in London, where he was employed as a chamber musician to the Duke of York and director of music for the Duke of Gloucester, coming to compose a lovely, cheerfully undemanding set of trio sonatas, printed as his Op.9, for the Duke of Cumberland, and some more adventurous cello sonatas which display the instrument in an increasingly independent role.
We know a bit less about Ignazio, though both brothers were certainly in town when the eight-year-old prodigy Mozart arrived in the summer of 1764 with his family caravan of Leopold and Nannerl (gave concerts, caught a cold and composed his First Symphony). The year before his brother’s arrival, Ignazio had had printed this set of organ sonatas, called his Opus One. Seven years later was published an Op.2 collection for violin and keyboard. The 12 sonatas of Op.1 follow a pre-Classical structure, in two distinct movements, composed in a form somewhere between the Scarlatti sonata-form (a single movement in two parts) and Sonata Form as we have come to understand the term. It is possible that Ignazio was inspired by the keyboard sonatas by Pietro Domenico Paradisi, also published in London in 1754, sharing the brilliant and elegant style typical of 17th century Italian music.
Massimo Gabba’s discography for Brilliant has included Romantic transcriptions of Handel and the complete organ music of August Gottfried Ritter (1811-1885), both of which attest to a stylish response on suitable instruments, whatever the repertoire.
Ignazio Cirri lived the best part of the 18th century, a Maestro di Cappella of the Forli Cathedral in Italy. He wrote a large amount of liturgical music, but only two works were published, Violin Sonatas Opus 2, and the present Organ Sonatas Opus 1.
Cirri’s sonatas are in pre-classical style, and with their two movements form a bridge between the single-movement sonatas by Scarlatti and Paradisi and the Viennese sonatas by Haydn and Mozart with their 3 movements. The writing is elegant and refined, and displays an excellent command of counterpoint.
Massimo Gabba, one of the most notable young organists of Italy, plays a magnificent Grisante organ of the Parish Church of San Bononio in Pozzengo, originating from the early 18th century. All its specifications and photo are included in the booklet, which is written in English and Italian.