The "Toccate e Correnti d’intavolatura d’organo e cimbalo", probably published around 1634, are the only surviving publication of keyboard music by Michelangelo Rossi (c.1601-1656). Rossi’s frequent use of unexpected harmonic turns, expressive chromaticism, dissonances with unusual resolutions, and abrupt changes of texture, is an evident sign of Gesualdo’s influence on his musical language.
Rossi was also a Genovese contemporary of Girolamo Frescobaldi, who exercised a strong underlying influence on Bach. In their toccatas Frescobaldi and Rossi tried to create what might be called a ‘keyboard madrigal’, which are not transcriptions of texts but share with that genre a powerfully expressive appeal far distant from contemporary, dryly functional dances and toccatas. The toccatas are highly elaborated and developed fantasias, whereas the correnti, as their name implies, are simple, pacy little numbers, most of them barely more than a minute long.
All the pieces in the Toccate e Correnti are playable both on the harpsichord and on the organ. On this new recording, Riccardo Castagnetti plays a harpsichord made by Alberto Vanini in 1992, a copy of an instrument built in 1697 by Carlo Grimaldi. The organ is that of the Basilica di Santa Barbara in Mantua, built in 1565 by GraziadioAntegnati and restored by Giorgio Carli in 1995-2006. In order to show the different expressive resources of each instrument, Castagnetti includes a double version of two works, each recorded on both organ and harpsichord: the differences make for fascinating comparative listening.
Michelangelo Rossi lived from 1601 till 1656, and held during his life several important posts as court composer and musician (Rome, Modena).
Rossi’s “Toccate e correnti d’intavolaturad’organo e cimbalo” is his only published work, an important opus in the Italian keyboard tradition of Frescobaldi and others. In his work Rossi was influenced by the great madrigal composers Sigismondod’India and notably Gesualdo. The latter’s style may be traced in Rossi’s unexpected harmonic turns, expressive chromatism and abrupt changes of texture and mood.
Riccardo Castagnetti, a noted scholar and musician, plays on the 1565 Antegnati organ of the Basilica of Santa Barbara in Mantua, and on a Vanini harpsichord, a copy after a Grimaldi of 1697.