Gwendolyn Toth

Gwendolyn Toth is the director of the New York City-based early music ensemble, ARTEK, and a soloist on early keyboards (organ, harpsichord, fortepiano). She is married to harpsichordist Dongsok Shin, and they have three children.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Organs, organs, and more organs

July 26

The next morning, we set out in Giuseppe’s car to visit other Italian organs. Unfortunately we were unable to show Dongsok the fantastic 16th century organ in Trevi that I performed on last December, because the church where it is located is now a museum, and like many museums, was closed on Mondays. Sad, because I really love that organ and would have liked to play it again. We went on to Foligno, where Andrea was working on his latest restoration. The Foligno organ (from 1749) was quite exceptional. A small earlier organ was incorporated into a newly built organ (functioning as a sort of “echo” organ, since the pipes are located behind the keydesk & totally blocked) – so it was a rare two-manual Italian organ. Wonderful sounds, and since it was a later instrument, some interesting reed stops. The second manual makes some interesting repertoire possibilities: Andrea begged me to play Mozart on this organ the next time I come to Italy! Hm. An intriguing thought! After lunch, Giuseppe, Dongsok & I traveled to Serra San Quirico, where we saw two restored organs; one from 1676, exceptionally beautiful case and also a stunningly beautiful small church, with a typically beautiful double principal 8. We met the local priest, who then took us to another church with an 19th century organ, also very nice. (He then treated us to aperitifs at the local bar, where everyone in the town seemed to stop by to greet him.) A long day and many organs, but what pleasure.

I must also mention that all three cities – Leonessa, Foligno, and Serra San Quirico – were located amidst some breathtaking scenery. I had no idea this area of central Italy was quite so mountainous; I had spent plenty of time previously exploring hill towns like Orvieto and other Tuscan & Umbrian cities, but these areas in Lazio, Abruzzo and Marche had stunning vistas. And the colors of the landscapes in Italy is unlike anywhere else I’ve been, just like Willem-Jan had said they were.

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