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The organ of Cremolino parish church.

The organ in Cremolino parish church (province of Alessandria,Piedmont) was built by Carlo Vegezzi Bossi in 1914 according to the regulations contained in the so-called “1903 Reforma Ceciliana”, issued through pope Pius X ‘s motu proprio "Inter sollicitudines". Pius X thereby returned liturgical music to its traditions of Gregorian chant and classical polyphony, counteracting the habit, which had become widespread in the previous few decades, of performing operatic music during church ceremonies.
Following such papal order, throughout Italy and in the whole catholic church, there developed a wide musical movement which was to dramatically transform not only liturgical, but also holy and religious music in general. It was that movement that nurtured the greatest musicians of the early 20 century, such as Ravanello, Bottazzo, Bossi, Manari and – most exquisite in the genre - Don Lorenzo Perosi, whose works reached the highest degree in European classical music as a whole.
In its turn, Italian organ school underwent a similar dramatic change. The nearly “band” sonorities which had characterised the organs of the previous century were abandoned to allow a return to the origins and at the same time to implement the numerous technical advancements of European organ building in the period, which made it possible to exploit the entire range of the sound nuances of the instrument.
That started a very interesting and innovative period of Italian organ building, in which the instruments no longer consisted of one keyboard and limited pedalboards, but began to include up to three-four keyboards, larger-ranged pedalboards and made use of rich timbre palettes. That enabled the Italian organ to effectively serve the liturgy and at the same time to beautifully interpret the repertoire which was being created by the great composers who were succeeding in combining polyphonic traditions with the symphonic postromantic features of the European music of the period, paving the way for the so-called
“modern music”.
The organ in Cremolino church is evidence of that period. Even though it is not very big, it shows all the aforesaid characteristics and moreover its sonority makes it particularly suitable both for liturgy and concert uses.

The Building

The instrument was designed together with Giacomo Sizia from Bubbio, a village not far from Cremolino. Sizia, one of the best-known organ scholars of the period, was instrumental in implementing Reforma Ceciliana and contributed to develop a modern and contemporary aesthetics of the organ both as a theorist and as a popularizer.
Sizia was friends both with Bossi and with Cremolino parish priest, theologian Giuseppe Luigi Brondolo, which made it easier to enrich the parish church – which had just been built- of this beautiful hamlet with a brand new church organ provided with a tubular system of two keyboards and 30 stops, according to a design made by Bossi on June 14, 1913 and approved in a contract signed on October 16, 1913.
As there was no stand in the church, one was soon designed by Reverend D.A.Thea and built (in reinforced concrete) by a skilful building contractor from Ovada, Vittorio Campostrini.
Reverend Thea devised also the beautiful and original wooden case which was to enclose the instrument and was made by woodworker Giovanni Battista Bruno.
The new organ was built in Carlo Vegezzi-Bossi factory in Turin, then, after being assembled, tuned and accomplished at Cremolino, it was tested and inaugurated on September 6, 1914.
In its original console, the organ has two 58-note keyboards (C1-A5), a 27-note flat pedalboard (C1-D3) and tubular air transmission. It has no free combinations and on each keyboard there are four thumb pistons for the fixed combinations of the groups of stops.
Originally, the bellows were operated by a crank handled wheel on the left side of the instrument, then in 1923 an electric engine was installed by Giovanni Morassi, Ovada, which set the wheel in motion by a transmission belt, and finally, when the organ was restored in 1994, the system was replaced by an internal electric fan.
The original console, located oddly enough on the right side of the instrument, is still currently working and well-maintained.

The 1994 restoration

The organ was intensely used until the Forties of the previous century, then WWII, the harsh conditions which followed it, and the passing away of the local organists belonging to the great Italian school of the early 20 century left it without any maintenance for a few decades.
In 1992, which marked the centenary of the church, it was decided to restore the organ as well as the building. The renovation work, besides to revoice the instrument, was also to make it compliant with the liturgical standards issued by Vatican Council II, ordaining that the organ should be placed next to the choir and the chapter house. A new console provided with electronic transmission would be installed in the church transept and it would be placed on a platform with castors which could enable it to be moved around. The connection with the organ body on the tribune was made possible by a built-in electric cable.
The work was entrusted to “Fratelli Marin” organbuilders, based in Genova Bolzaneto (they have recently moved to new premises at Lumarzo), who thoroughly cleaned the instrument, provided it with an internal electric fan, revoiced all the pipes and installed the new console.
The rebuilding of the organ was completed in 1994, on its 80 anniversary. It was done very accurately, restoring and regulating the original pneumatic tubular transmission, which was kept perfectly efficient.
To solve the problem of the connection and interaction between such transmission and the electronic one employed by the new console in the church, neither the wind chests nor other original parts were modified; the electromagnets and the external valves were put into contact with each other through some structures outside the wind chests.
The two electronic exchanges activating the organ through the new console are located one inside the former, the other inside the latter and were manufactured by the Italian company Eltec, which have been one of the best companies in the field for thirty years – among their latest successes the revolutionary system of proportional transmission of Tenerife organ and the updated computerised system of transmission for the organ in Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris.
Thanks to the adoption of electronic transmission, the new console made it possible to provide the instrument with up to 1275 adjustable combinations (subdivided into 255 series of five combinations each), a sequencer, i.e. a device allowing to activate the combinations scrolling them up or down, as well as a recording device which can record the organists’ performances and have the organ play them at any time, also without the organist’s presence.
Electronic transmission has also made it possible to install super and sub octaves, which were not in the original instrument, and to add a 30-note concave-radial pedalboard, having the notes of the lower octave “refrained” and thus enabling the organist to perform pieces involving an extension of the pedalboard wider than the original one.

The Centenary service

On the occasion of the centenary of 2014, the whole instrument was cleaned and checked by organbuilder Pietro Corna from Casnigo (Bergamo), who also replaced the old electronic exchanges and recording device with the latest models produced by Eltec, Cuneo.
The organ is presently fully functioning and can be operated both from the original console in the tribune and from the electronic console in the church (also contemporarily).

Disposizione Fonica (Stop List)

Grande Organo (Tastiera I) - Great Organ (Man. I)

- Principale 16
- Principale Primo
(Diapason) 8
- Principale Secondo
(Dulcian) 8
- Ottava 4
- Duodecima 2-2/3
- Decimaquinta 2
- Ripieno 6 file
- Voce Umana
(Unda Maris) 8
- Flauto 8
- Flauto
(a Camino) 4
- Tromba 8

Recitativo (Tastiera II) - Swell Organ (Man. II)

- Eufonio 8
- Bordone 8
(Ottava) Eolina 4
- Ripieno 3 file
- Flauto
(Ottaviante) 4
- Viola
(da Gamba) 8
- Coro Viole 8
- Oboe 8
- Tremolo

Pedale - Pedal Organ:

(Violon) Contrabbasso 16
- Subbasso 16
- Basso Armonico
(Ottava) 8
- Bordone 8

- Violoncello 8

FUG 056

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