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"Antico/Moderno - Renaissance Madrigals Embellished"

Capriccio Stravagante
Dir: Skip Sempé

rec: 2009, [n.p.]
Paradizo - PA0008 (© 2009) (66'24")

anon: Doulce mémoire (Sandrin)k [2]; Andrea ANTICO (c1480-after 1538): Cantai mentre nel core (Cara)k; Marchetto CARA (1470-1525): Cantai mentre nel corebcde [1]; Girolamo DALLA CASA (?-c1601): Ben qui si mostra'l ciel (De Rore) [5]; Giacomo FOGLIANO (1468-1548): L'amor, dona, ch'io te portobcde; JOSQUIN DESPREZ (c1440-1521): In te Domine speravibcde; Diego ORTIZ (c1510-c1570): Doulce mémoire (Sandrin)bk/bfk [3]; O felici occhi miei (Arcadelt)bcde [3]; Richardo ROGNIONO (c1550-1620): Ancor che col partire (De Rore)fk [6]; Francesco ROGNONI (?-1626?): Pulchra es amica mea (Da Palestrina)bfghij [7]; Vestiva i colli (Da Palestrina)bk [7]; Cipriano DE RORE (1515/16-1565): Ancor che col partirefghij; Vincenzo RUFFO (c1508-1587): O felici occhi miei (Arcadelt)bce [4]; Pierre SANDRIN (c1490-after 1560): Doulce mémoirefghij; Bartolomeo DE SELMA Y SALAVERDE (c1595-1638?): Vestiva i collibfk [8]; Doron SHERWIN: Ancor che col partire (De Rore)afgij; Doulce mémoire (Sandrin)ak; Io son ferito (Da Palestrina)afghij; Susanne un jour (Lassus)ak; Giovanni Battista SPADI (?-?): Ancor che col partire (De Rore)bk

(Sources: [1] Marchetto Cara, Frottole intabulate da sonare organi, libro primo, 1517; [2] anon, Tablatures of Jan van Lublin, 1537-48; [3] Diego Ortiz, Trattado de glosas ..., 1553; [4] Vincenzo Ruffo, Capricci in musica, a 3, a commodo de virtuosi, 1564; [5] Girolamo dalla Casa, Il vero modo di diminuir, libri I et II, 1584; [6] Richardo Rogniono, Passaggi per potersi essercitare nel diminuire terminatamente ..., 1592; [7] Francesco Rognoni, Selva di varii passaggi ..., 1620; [8] Bartolomeo de Selma y Salaverde, Canzoni fantasie et correnti da suonar, 1638

Doron Sherwin, cornettoa; Julien Martinb, Marine Sablonnièrec, Benoît Toïgod, Evolène Kienere, recorder; Josh Cheathamf, Nick Milneg, Thomas de Pierrefeuh, Julien Léonardi, viola da gamba; Françoise Johannel, harpj; Skip Sempé, harpsichord, virginalk

The title of this disc is an indication of what it is about: a confrontation of "old" and "new". The largest part of the repertoire is from the decades around 1600, and written by Italian composers. It was the time of the transition from the prima prattica to the seconda prattica. The programme shows that there was no radical break between the two styles, but rather a gradual process of change.

The titles of most pieces will be familiar to almost any lover of early music. These madrigals and motets belonged to the most popular and most frequently arranged of the 16th century. They were what we would call 'evergreens'. Their popularity didn't wane with the emergence of the stile nuovo in Italy, but they continued to fascinate composers. And the fact that they were so widely known was only an encouragement to arrange them. The decades around 1600 were the era of the diminutions or passaggi: a given melody, usually the upper part of a madrigal or motet, was highly embellished, whereas the other parts were played on various instruments.

On this disc most madrigals are presented in various arrangements. Pierre Sandrin's Doulce mémoire can be heard five times: a performance of the original chanson with a consort of viols and harp, two embellished versions by Diego Ortiz, a version for keyboard from the Tablature of Jan van Lublin and in a version by the cornettist Doron Sherwin. Ancor che col partire by Cipriano de Rore appears four times: again a performance of the original with viols and harp, passaggi by Richardo Rogniono and by Giovanni Battista Spadi respectively, and again a version by Doron Sherwin. The various versions of a madrigal are not played at a stretch: the latter madrigal, for instance, is divided over four tracks (2,10,11,14).

The kind of music played here is well represented on disc, and some pieces in the programme may have appeared in other recordings as well. But the repertoire is large, and there will be some pieces which are less familiar. That is in particular the case with the arrangements of Andrea Antico and Giovanni Battista Spadi. Also interesting is the fact that a number of pieces are not performed with a treble instrument, supported by keyboard and string bass, but rather with a consort of viols or recorders in which the treble plays the embellishments. Jacques Arcadelt's O felici occhi miei is performed in two arrangements. First the passaggi by Diego Ortiz are played with a consort of recorders, in which the upper part is embellished. This is followed by a three-part arrangement from Vincenzo Ruffo's Capricci in musica (1564), in which the two upper parts are embellished and the lowest recorder plays a bass line.

The use of a consort of viols or recorders is a nice alternative to a performance with a chordal instrument and a string bass. One would think it being more appropriate in music from the 16th century than in, for instance, Francesco Rognoni's passaggi over Palestrina's motet Pulchra es amica mea, which are from a collection which was printed in 1620. But there is evidence that a consort of viols was still a common phenomenon in the first quarter of the 17th century.

As far as the performances are concerned, the pieces with viols and recorders come off best. Also very good are the arrangements by Doron Sherwin, which are idiomatic and brilliantly performed by Sherwin himself. Josh Cheatham is generally pretty good in his performances, but I am less enthusiastic about Julien Martin. His playing is mostly a bit flat. Yes, the recorder's dynamic range is limited, but that is no excuse for almost avoiding dynamic contrasts. I have heard better performances of this kind of repertoire on the recorder.

But in general this is a nice disc with repertoire which looks familiar, but has some lesser-known pieces to offer, and also contains ornamented versions of 16th-century madrigals in less common scorings.

Johan van Veen (© 2010)

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