No, I’m not in Italy. No, I didn’t go to Italy and no I’m not going to Italy. I wish. The only people in my family who have had that pleasure are my sister and brother-in-law. But thanks to music albums, the gap that spans my house here in the US and Italy is made short to the distance between my speakers and ears! Today I am deep into discovering the organ works of Pietro Alessandro Yon (1886-1943), performed on four different Italian instruments.

Before today, my exposure to the organ works of Pietro Yon have been quite limited. I have encountered his Gesù Bambino quite a bit, and a few recordings of his Humoresque “l’organo primitivo” over the years. I had the pleasure of attending a organ concert performed by Diane Bish on the organ at my college, she performed the Finale from Yon’s Concerto Gregoriano for solo organ, a piece I have since fallen in love with, but have never had a recording of…
Until now!

Today, thanks to the efforts of organist Elisa Teglia and the Tactus label, I have in my hands a four-disc set of Yon’s complete organ works!

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Now, I first encountered this album on Spotify (great resource with TONS of organ music available to listen to, by the way!). After listening to Yon’s Cristo Trionfante, I knew that I had to get my hands on a copy of the album! It wasn’t until I had the hard copy in hand and read through the liner notes that I learned why I loved that piece of music so much. It is an Easter piece based on the theme O filii et filiae, one of my favorite Easter themes. Knowing what to listen for, upon re-listening to it I can definitely hear it. I never caught that before…

It’s also been nice to finally hear the rest of the Concerto Gregoriano for solo organ. It’s a splendid work of music and virtuosity (much of his work seems pretty demanding on the performer). I also greatly enjoyed the Sonata Cromatica, as well as some other

From reading the liner notes on Yon, I was surprised to learn that not only did he become an American Citizen in 1921, but that Yon also was the organist and music director of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Apparently he was quite a famed musical figure, even for a while after his death in 1943. It makes me wonder why his works don’t have more of a presence in the repertoire being played at recitals these days, or why there has not been a recording of his organ works before now…

Now admittedly, I am not too familiar with Italian composers or instruments. The few encounters I’ve had with them have not been great. Up till now, the only organ music from an Italian composer I’ve had is the (few) organ works by Ottorino Respighi. So it is nice to add something new to the mix.

While I appreciate and enjoy most of Yon’s organ works presented on this album, I am not as thrilled about all the instruments that they chose to record on. Each disc is recorded on a different instrument and for my personal tastes the first and fourth discs have the best sound and acoustics, particularly the first on the organ at Duomo di Como. Unfortunately the second disc featuring the organ at Chiesa Natività B.V.Maria, Trebaseleghe just sounds like it is in a space that is acoustically non-existent… Particularly when you compare it to Duomo di Como. I wish the Concerto Gregoriano had been recorded one of the other instruments.

Italian organs also seem awfully bright in their sound. Often times bordering on shrill. Anybody who knows me, I don’t mind nice crisp clear speaking stops. But for my ears there’s a fine line between that and the point at which an organ sounds “screechy.” Some of these organs dance around that line a little too close for my comfort.

But I really do have much to thank of Else Teglia for this record album. It’s fun to step out of the familiar and hear new things! Honestly, this album makes me rethink my long-held caution for exploring Italian organ music. This is a welcome album to my collection…