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"Io canterei d'amor"

Regina Kabis, sopranoa; Kai Christian Moritz, recitationb
Quartetto con Affettoc

rec: [no date, no place]
Animato - ACD6111 (© 2009) (57'59")

anon: De tous bien pleinc; Patrem/de tous biensc; Giovanni BASSANO (1560/61-1617): Anchor che col partire (after Cipriano de Rore)c; Frais er Gaillard (after Jacobus Clemens non Papa)c; Io canterei d'Amor (after Cipriano de Rore)ac; Giovanni Battista BOVICELLI (fl 1592-1594): Anchor che col partire (after Cipriano de Rore)ac; Eustache DU CAURROY (1549-1609): Une jeune filletteac; Hayne DE GHIZEGHEM (c1440-before 1497): De tous biens plaineabc; JOSQUIN DESPREZ (1440-1521): De tous biens playnec; Diego ORTIZ (1510-1570): Recercada II sobre Doulce memoire c; Recercada II sobre O felici occhi mieic; Francesco ROGNONI Taeggio (?-1626?): Pulchra es amica mea (after Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)ac; Cipriano DE RORE (1516-1565): Io canterei d'Amorac
Poems in German translation by François Villon (1431-c1463) and Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374)b

Lucia Dimmeler, Eva Grießhaber, Bettina Haugg, Manuela Mohr, recorder

The title of this disc refers to the first line of a poem by Francesco Petrarca: "I sing of love in this new way". Love is the subject of the music on this disc, which contains songs and arrangements of songs written from the late 15th to the late 16th century. The musical items are interspersed by poems by François Villon, a poet from the 15th century who uses the language of common people. They are read in a German translation which is an error of judgement as it will make this disc less attractive to the international market. It had been better to read them in their original language, with a translation in the booklet.

It would be a shame if this disc wouldn't find its way on the international market because the performances are very good. The programme begins with a famous French chanson, 'Une jeune fillette', which has been taken as the subject for five instrumental fantasias by Eustache du Caurroy; four of them are included here. This song contains seven stanzas which are all performed. The first, fourth and seventh are sung by Regina Kabis without instrumental accompaniment, whereas the second, third, fifth and sixth are played on recorders with the upper part sung by Ms Kabis.

The largest number of instrumental works are diminutions by composers of the late 16th century. In some cases the upper part is sung by Regina Kabis, which is certainly not very common, and one may wonder if they are meant to be sung, considering their heavily ornamented character, with sometimes less than comfortable leaps. Ms Kabis sings them impressively, though, and it is certainly interesting to hear them performed this way. The diminutions on Palestrina's motet Pulchra es amica mea by Francesco Rognoni shows how composers used music written in the stile antico for instrumental variations. It is only the upper part of the motet which is ornamented, whereas the other parts are identical with the original.

It wasn't only motets, but also secular works which were the subject of instrumental arrangements. The choice of subjects tells us much about the popularity of the various pieces, like Frais et gaillard by Jacobus Clemens non Papa and Anchor che col partire by Cipriano de Rore. Giovanni Bassano and Giovanni Battista Bovicelli are among the most prolific composers of diminutions which are mostly written for a solo instrument and bc, but can easily be played with a consort of instruments like on this disc.

Until the early 17th century hardly any independent instrumental music existed - the players of instruments almost exclusively played music based on vocal models. The treatment of these models evolved during the renaissance. That is shown here through the juxtaposition of the diminutions and the much older instrumental versions of De tous biens playne.

I have already referred to the performances by Regina Kabis, who not only impresses in the diminutions, but also sings the chanson 'Une jeune fillette' very beautifully. She has a nice voice, crisp and clear, and an excellent diction. Her breath control allows her to perform the elaborate ornamented parts in the diminutions, but also the quiet, long lines of this chanson. The four recorder players also deliver excellent performances, with good ensemble and perfect intonation. Their interpretations are lively and - as their aim is, according to the name of the ensemble - full of Affekt.

Despite the fact that the poems are read in German I would like to recommend this disc because of the quality of both repertoire and performance. The booklet is rather poor: the liner notes are very brief, there is no English translation of the lyrics - just a short synopsis - and neither the sources of the musical items are given nor the original titles of Villon's poems.
This disc deserves a wider dissemination than in the German-speaking world alone, and that makes the flaws in this production the more regrettable.

Johan van Veen (© 2010)

Relevant links:

Regina Kabis
Quartetto con Affetto

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