Four Spanish Baroque Compositions for Organ
from Three Composers

Juan Bautista José Cabanilles:  Pasacalles de 1º tono
Narcís Casanoves i Beltrán:  Cantabile & Paso VII

José Lidon:  Sonata de  tono

Click on the link below to download a PDF booklet
available 06/202



Juan Bautista José Cabanilles (1644-1712) pursued a musical career as a composer and organist in Valencia. He wrote extensively for organ, but his output also includes numerous sacred vocal works. His Pasacalles de 1º tono presents a facet of the compositional genre related to ostinato and ground (bass). The title, ‘street step’, indicates a dance rhythm as well as a formal structure that has come to be known as the passacaglia (equivalent of the French passacaille). As a curious contradiction, the passacaglia is more frequently manifested in triple meter, where Cabanilles’ twenty-six variations are written primarily in quadruple meter. His work has been adapted here for performance on a modern instrument, with the addition of a relatively straightforward pedal part. As in all sets of variations, contrasting touches, timbres and dynamic levels will enhance the musical interest and appeal.

Narcís Casanoves i Beltrán was born in Sabadell, near Barcelona in 1747; his name reflects the Catalán culture and tradition of his native land. In 1763 he became a monk and took up residence at Montserrat; he died in neighboring Viña Vieja in 1799. Casanoves is noted as a composer of sonatas and fugues for keyboard, as well as of vocal settings of  liturgical texts. His expressive Cantabile in D Minor is a binary structure, similar to the  sonatas of Lidon and Domenico Scarlatti, but it is notable also for its floridly ariose soprano line that calls for an appropriate solo registration. The rhythms and harmonies of the andante motion are unique in their evocation of some of the distinctively Iberian and Moorish melodic traditions of an exotic culture. Paso VII is in essence an abbreviated — but carefully crafted — fugue, combining chromatic tonalities with traditional imitative textures and rhythms. Ornamentations have been added editorially, along with optional notations for pedal.

José Lidon was born in 1752 in Bejar, a province of Salamanca, and his career postdates the musical activities of a majority of the other composers represented in this collection. Both his and Casanoves’ compositional styles are indicative of the latter manifestations of latter Baroque practices in the musical world of the Iberian Peninsula, and they verge on rococo. Lidon was organist of the Chapel Royal (Capilla Real) in Madrid, and he referred to himself on a title page that appeared in 1787 as “Master of the Italian Style at the Royal College.” He died in Madrid in 1827. His sonorous but brief Sonata de 1º tono ‘para órgano con trompeta real’ offers an oppor-tunity to showcase unusual and brilliant horizontal (or other) solo reeds found on various organs. It is included here for possible performance with two works by an Iberian contemporary of his, Narcís Casanoves.