The Serassi organ
of Santa Maria of Campagna in Piacenza

The organ of the church in Santa Maria of Campagna in Piacenza, Italy was manufactured by Serassi from Bergamo in two periods (1825 and 1838) under the advice of Padre Davide da Bergamo, the organist of the church and at that time a progressive composer.

Two reasons to call this organ one of the most important organs of Italy.
A. It is built by the 'Fratelli Serassi' (Andrea, Carlo, Alessandro, Giuseppe, Giacomo en Ferdinando) six leading organ builders.
B. The music that Padre Davide composed took a wide variety of timbres, much more than the organs of the time could offer.

Until around 1800, the Italian organs were small instruments with a subdued and refined sound. A low wind pressure with a low mouth made the sound rich of overtones and singing. The brothers Serassi were the most important organ builders in Italy at the time. They were able to realize new sounds and add to the existing traditional organ sound. The collaboration between Serassi and Padre Davide created a new organ style with rich sound colours.

The composer Padre Davide da Bergamo was looking for an organ builder who could shape his new ideas about organ sounds. In their collaboration, an organ with sounds formed close to orchestral instruments, such as the Flûte Traverse (Flutta), the English horn, the Hunting horn, the Trumpet, the Bassoon, the Piccolo and the Cello. Although this was already common in the northern countries, the Italian sounds were more specifically focused on the sound colours of orchestral instruments. No imitation of an orchestra, the sounds came from labial pipes and reeds, but the large number of new timbres gave a wonderful rendition of the music of Padre Davide da Bergamo.

In addition to the religious repertoire, secular pieces, such as sonatas, symphonies and free compositions, could also be performed on this organ. The Italian music liturgical music changed style, she became more brilliant and more virtuoso. On this organ the baroque music of Bach and Buxtehude could be interpreted well, unlike the existing Italian organ. The organist played not only the music of the liturgy, but also virtuoso concert music. In this process of organ and musical evolution, Padre Davide da Bergamo played a fundamental role.

When Padre Davide came to Piacenza, the basilica's organ was a modest eighteenth-century instrument of Cavalletti. Soon thereafter, Father Davide began to look for an extension of the old organ with the brothers Serassi. The work was carried out in two phases: a first phase in 1825, followed by the extension of a second keyboard in 1838. A large part of the pipes of Cavalletti were reused in the Organo Eco. Many of these pipes are still older and came from Giovanni Battista Facchetti who built the first organ of the church in 1528.

In addition to the usual pipe sounds from labial and lingual registers, Padre Davide wanted an extension with percussion sounds: the bells. These are real carillon bells that can be played both with the keyboards and with the pedal and in addition small clocks with a tinkling sound that added a cimbel sound to the pipe sounds.
On the occasion of the inauguration of the great instrument, Padre Davide wrote 15 organ pieces, published by Ricordi in 1838.

A panoramic photograph (360 degrees) shows the interior of the church here

Sound colours

A striking feature of this organ is the huge choice in timbres. Several different sounding Principals and octave voices, besides special registers with both full soft flute sounds and also thin sounding strings. Many registers are shared in bas and treble, so they can be combined in many ways. The organ also has a large number of reeds with different sound characters from loud and full to thin and subtle.

Italian pipes work on a low wind pressure so that the cut-up mouth can also remain low, which is beneficial for good overtone development. Because the Italian churches always have good acoustics, powerful sounds are not necessary to fill the whole church. This gives a refined sound image. The Church of Piacenza fully meets this ideal and the acoustics are well stored in the diffuse samples. The organist can choose the relationship between direct and diffuse sounds.

The original keyboard size of the Grand'Organo is 6 octaves. However, the lowest octave of the Grand'Organo is a short octave, where the semi tones are missing. The lowest octave of the manual is the contra-octave, an octave lower than the usual lowest C on an organ. In the sample set it is stored so that all five octaves of a Hauptwerk organ are used.

The keyboard is the Eco manual, which also has 6 octaves, but the contra-octave as well as the grand-octave have no pipes and also operate a higher octave. The real keyboard size Organo Eco is 4 octaves C0 – C4. All five octaves are used here as well.

The original size of the pedal keyboard is C-E0, but consists only of 12 pipes for the lowest octave. The higher keys repeat the tones of the lowest octave. The original instrument also has two pedal keys on the pedal keyboard. A key F0 serves to control the Terzamano coupling; The G0 button lets hear the Rollante. In the Hauptwerk software this functionality was accordingly designed. However, according to the same logic and to facilitate the use of the virtual organ, the key of F # 0 was used to use the Gran Cassa (drums stroke). Terza Mano means third hand; In the upper keyboard it is an octave coupling that allows an octave to be higher.

The organ has 9 Carillon bells; In the pedal they are played in the order C-D-E-F-G-A-BB-B-C0. The clocks can also be played on the middle octave of the lower keyboard, using extra wooden hammers that make a softer sound. To operate the clocks, the register Campanneli must be enabled. If a MIDI Velocity sensitive keyboard is available, the clock sounds are touch sensitive.

With the registry Campanelli sound soft clocks on the upper keyboard. The sounds are comparable to a cimbel star, but where they only make a few clocks in a fixed order, the Campanelli clocks are tuned and sound beautifully together with the treble pipes of the upper keyboard.

Sounds for the living room
Italian pipes always sound on a very low wind pressure with the upper lip at short distance from the languid. This gives a calm wind flow with clear and relaxed sounds. The singing sounds are ideal for a living room and because the sample set of this Serassi organ reproduce so many sound colours excellent, it is a good choice for Hauptwerk.
The sample set is offered in the Surround variant (6 channels). In addition to the usual 4-channel surround, there are two more alternative front channels. In total, there are 4 front audio channels and 2 rear channels. The two pairs of the front ranks feature two different recording positions: direct (near to the pipes) and diffuse (distant from the instrument). These two pairs of the front ranks can either be mixed together freely to achieve any listening position between the two extremes, or used separately. A dedicated "mixing desk" is available in Hauptwerk to mix the sound to the desired level.

The set is available for 363 Euro incl VAT. A set with part of the stops can be downloaded free.
see: Sonus Paradisi

Nederlands
  Deutsch