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Giovanni Martino CESARE (c1590-1667)
Musicali Melodie per voci et instrumenti (1621)

La Vittoria [03:37]
Beata es Virgo [02:31]
Jubilate Deo [03:34]
Salve Regina [02:29]
La Fenice [03:02]
La Bavara [02:46]
La Monachina [02:25]
Isti sunt duae olivae [02:00]
Sancta Maria [02:18]
Veni sponsa Christi [02:08]
La Ioannina [02:45]
La Massimiliana [02:21]
La Augustana [02:48]
O Domine Jesu Christe [02:16]
Cantate Dominum [02:26]
Gabriel Angelus [02:00]
La Foccarina [03:41]
La Hieronyma [01:57]
La Giorgina [03:28]
O Domine Jesu Christe [02:36]
Domine Exaudi [02:23]
Laudate pueri [01:55]
Assumpta est Maria [02:09]
La Gioia [03:03]
La Famosa [01:56]
La Constanza [03:27]
Ecco [02:46]
Benedicam Dominum [03:15]

Guillemette Laurens, Marie-Claude Vallin (soprano), Jean-Louis Comoretto, Jean-Yves Guerry (alto), John Elwes, Bruno Boterf (tenor), Bernard Fabre-Garrus, Yves Berge (bass)
Les Saqueboutiers de Toulouse:
Jean-Pierre Canihac, Philippe Matharel (cornet), Daniel Lassalle Bernard Foutet (trombone), Jan Willem Jansen (harpsichord, organ)
with: Jean Tubéry, Marie Garnier-Marzullo (cornet), Stefan Legree, Nicolas Valade (trombone), Brigit Täubl, Gunar Letzbor (violin), Lorenz Duftschmid (viola da gamba, violone), Christine Pluhar (harp), Charles-Edouard Fantin (chitarrone, theorbo)
Recorded in January 1996 in the Chapelle des Carmélites, Toulouse, France DDD
ACCORD 476 064-2 [76:22]


Giovanni Martino Cesare was born in Udine, but worked outside Italy during the largest part of his life. Around the time he published his first collection of music (Magnificat item Antiphonae Mariales, 1611) he was a cornettist at the court of the Margrave of Burgau at Günzburg, near Augsburg. He became connected to Duke Maximilian of Bavaria, in whose chapel in Munich he played in 1612; in 1615 he entered Maximilian’s service. His ties with Augsburg never loosened, since the collection of instrumental canzonas and motets which is recorded here, is dedicated to the Fugger family of Augsburg. Several pieces in the collection have titles which refer to members of this family, like ‘La Giorgina’ and ‘La Massimiliana’.

Other pieces are references to the places where he spent most of his life: ‘La Augustana’ refers to Augsburg, ‘La Monachina’ to Munich and ‘La Bavara’ to Bavaria.

The canzona ‘La Hieronyma’ is remarkable in that it is the first piece – as far as we know – which is specifically written for the trombone. A special feature of this collection is that the instrumentation is specified in detail. The instruments needed to play these pieces are the cornet – Cesare’s instrument - the violin, the trombone, the viola da gamba and the organ as a continuo instrument.

The motets – or rather sacred concertos – are set for voices and instruments, which enhance the expression of the texts.

Cesare obviously was held in high regard in Bavaria. His music was included in important publications of his time. Unfortunately the interpretation doesn’t reflect the high reputation of Cesare’s music.

This is a typical example of a recording which looks fine: all singers and instrumentalists are specialists in the field of early music and have demonstrated their skills in numerous recordings. The singing and playing is stylish, the singers blend well and the ensemble is playing really well.

But something is missing. Although the Italian music of the early 17th century belongs to my favourites, I had trouble listening to this CD in one session. It is all too one-dimensional. There is a lack in differentiation between the pieces, and also between the sections of some works. The playing is very correct, and very neat, but mostly without any fire or excitement. The texts of some vocal items are rather passionate. In the ‘Salve Regina’ a line like "ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes in hac lachrimarum valle" needs much more passion than the singers show here. And a jubilant piece like ‘Jubilate Deo’ is far too restrained. Only in some items the singers demonstrate real emotion, like the two tenors in ‘Assumpta est Maria’. They also show real excitement in the closing lines of ‘Isti sunt duae olivae’.

And why there is so little ornamentation even where the music practically begs for it is beyond me.

The booklet leaves much to be desired. There is no indication of the scoring of the items nor who is singing or playing which piece.

The lyrics in the booklet are full of printing errors; there is hardly one item which is printed correctly. Since there is an English translation of the liner notes it is rather strange that the lyrics are only translated in French.

The lyrics are not printed in the same order as they appear on the CD. That in itself is annoying, but even more so since some items have the same title.

This could have been a very good recording. But I can only recommend it to those who are interested in having this whole collection of music for its own sake. And listeners are well advised no to play the whole disc in one session.

The reputation Cesare obviously enjoyed in his lifetime is fully justified, but the musicians haven’t done him real justice.

Johan van Veen


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