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Andrea ANTICO: Complete Keyboard Music

[I] Andrea ANTICO: "Animoso mio desire - 16th-Century Italian Keyboard Favourites"
Glen Wilson, harpsichorda, spinetb
rec: June 2014, Monreale (Sicily)
Naxos - 8.572983 (© 2015) (60'07")
Liner-notes: E
Cover, track-list & booklet

[II] "The Renaissance Keyboard - Andrea Antico & Marco Antonio Cavazzoni, Complete Keyboard Music"
Fabio Antonio Falcone, harpsichordc, virginald, organe
rec: August 25 - 27, 2014, Montevecchio di Pergola, Chiesa di San Giuseppe
Brilliant Classics - 95007 (© 2015) (76'17")
Liner-notes: E
Cover & track-list

anon: Balla le oche (36)b; Bernardo non puol star (16)b; Cavalca caval bagliardo (35)b; Donne impresteme il vostro burato (15)b; El marchexe de salutio (31)b; El torexam che canta (32)b; La barcha del mio amore (17)b; La bella franceschina (2)b; La canella (32)b; La cara cossa del berdolim (10)b; La comadrina (25)b; La gastalda (6)b; La lumbarda (26)b; Le rotto el carro (12)b; Occelino, bel occelino (14)b; Som quel duca de milano (23)b; Todero: over tu o tene mamina (28)b; Tuo la straza furfante (3)b; Vegnando da bologna (38)b
Andrea ANTICO (c1480-after 1539) [1]: Amor quando fioriva mia speme (1)ac; Per mio ben te vederei (2)ac; Chi non crede (3)ad; Frema donna i toi bei lumi (4)ad; Virgine bella che del sol vestita (5)ac; Gentil donna (6)ac; Che debb'io fare (7)ac; Si è debile el filo (8)ac; Ochi miei lassi (9)ac; Odi cielo el mio lamento (10)ad; Animoso mio desire (11)ac; Stavasi amor (12)ac; Fiamma amorosa (13)ac; Non resta in questa (14)ad; O che aiuto o che conforto (15)ad; Per dolor mi bagno el viso (16)ac; Non più morte al mio morire (17)ad; Dolce ire dolce sdegni (18)ad; La non vol esser (19)ac; Son io quel che era quel di (20)ac; Che farala che dirala (21)ac; O che dirala mo (22)ad; Crudel fugge se sai (23)ad; Me lasserà tu mo (24)ad; Hor che'l ciel e la terra (25)ac; Cantai mentre nel core (26)ad
Marco Antonio CAVAZZONI (c1485-after 1569) [2]: L'autre yor per un matine; Madame vous aves mon cuore; O stella marise; Perdone moi sie foliee; Plus ne regrese; Recercadae; Recercare Ie; Recercare IIe; Salve Virgoe

Sources: [1] Andrea Antico, Frottole Intabulate da Sonare, 1517; [2] Marco Antonio Cavazzoni, Recerchari, motetti, canzoni ... libro primo, 1523

Two discs with largely the same repertoire being recorded for the very first time and being released more or less simultaneously - that is quite a coincidence. The Naxos disc claims to be a world premiere recording, and that cannot be challenged thanks to the fact that Glen Wilson went into the studio two months earlier than Fabio Antonio Falcone.

The key figure on both discs is Andrea Antico. To what extent he was active as a composer seems to be a matter of debate, but he was first and foremost a music publisher. He was from Montona in Istria (now Motovun in Croatia) at the Adriatic coast. He was educated as a woodblock cutter and devoted most of his time to music printing. When he started his activities the Venetian printer Ottaviano Petrucci was virtually the only music publisher in Italy. Antico settled in Rome, and in 1510 published the first collection of music. In 1513 Pope Leo X gave him the privilege of printing music in the papal states. A further privilege followed in 1516 and at the same time Petrucci lost his privilege to print organ tablatures. That paved the way for Antico to publish the Frottole Intabulate da Sonare in 1517 which probably was the very first specimen of printed keyboard music in Europe.

The frottola was one of the most popular forms of secular vocal music in the Italian renaissance. New Grove defines it as "[a] secular song of the Italian Renaissance embracing a variety of poetic forms. It flourished at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th and was the most important stylistic development leading to the madrigal." Two of the most significant composers of frottole were Bartolomeo Tromboncino (1470-after 1534) and Marchetto Cara (c1465-1525). Both are represented in Antico's collection; the majority of the pieces is from Tromboncino's pen. Michele Pisenti Vicentino (c1470-1528) and a certain Ranieri - about whom I couldn't find any information - are present with one piece each.

Whether Antico is the author of these intabulations seems to be a matter of debate. In the liner-notes to the Brilliant Classics recording this issue is not mentioned, but as the author, Faber Fabbris, refers to "Antico's transcriptions" we may conclude that he believes Antico was responsible for intabulating the frottole. The title-page seems to confirm this as Antico is depicted sitting at a harpsichord. Glen Wilson thinks otherwise. "He [Antico] was also very clever in his choice of arranger (it was not Antico himself, as if often thought [...])." He assumes it was rather "one of the countless Italian organists whose works have been lost (...)". The picture of Antico at the harpsichord can serve as an argument to play these pieces on such an instrument rather than the organ. As so often the indication of a specific keyboard instrument is merely a suggestion which doesn't exclude other instruments.

Both Wilson and Falcone have chosen the harpsichord. Wilson plays all the pieces on an instrument by Donatella Santoliquido, after models from the 16th century. Falcone plays a harpsichord by Roberto Livi, after an instrument by Alessandro Trasuntino of 1531. In some pieces he uses a polygonal virginal, again by Roberto Livi, a copy of an instrument by Domenico da Pesaro from around 1550.

Wilson studied the texts of the frottole which are included in this book. "Knowing the words to the frottole is essential to the performer, less so to the listener (...)". Is it? I haven't seen Antico's edition but I assume these texts were not underlaid. The question is whether those who purchased this edition knew these texts. Could they also be played without caring about the texts? This issue is not mentioned in the booklet to Falcone's disc, so I don't know whether he has also read the texts during the preparation of his recording. Could this explain the substiantial differences in tempo between the two recordings in some items? I can't bring any light to this matter. Wilson gives the translation of every title and sometimes additional lines from the text, but that doesn't clear things up.

Whatever the reason, the differences didn't bother me and I have greatly enjoyed both performances. As both discs come at budget price nobody interested in this repertoire should feel forced to make a choice, the more so because both artists have recorded some additional music. Antico's edition results in a playing time of about 45 minutes, and that is hardly enough, not even for a disc at budget price.

Falcone turned to another edition of keyboard music from the same time, the Recerchari Motetti Canzoni by Marco Antonio Cavazzoni, from 1523. He was born in Bologna and died in Venice. For a short time he was harpsichordist at the court of Pope Leo X. His 1523 edition includes two recercares and six intabulations of two motets and four chansons. The two recercares are the earliest known for keyboard. This edition is the only known work by Cavazzoni; the Recercada which closes Falcone's programme is from a manuscript at Castell'Arquato.

Glen Wilson has included pieces from another collection, a Venetian manuscript which was published in 1962 by Knud Jeppeson under the title Balli antichi Veneziani. These short pieces probably date from the same time and perfectly suit the aim of bringing some variety to the programme. This is underlined by Wilson's playing of a spinet, by the same builder as the harpsichord, and again based on 16th-century models.

Johan van Veen (© 2015)

Relevant links:

Fabio Antonio Falcone
Glen Wilson

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