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Decca Phase 4
| Io amai sempre Venise 1540
Sylvestro GANASSI (1492-1557)
1er Recarcar [1.05] 4ae Recercar [1.37] 2ae
Recercar [0.44] 3ae Recercar [1.55]
Jacques ARCADELT (1514-1557)
Quand ’io pens’al martire (transcr. Scotto [3.49]
and Da Ripa [2.55])
Giacomo FOGLIANO (1468-1548)
Io vorrei Dio d’amore [1.49] (transcr. Ganassi [1.58])
Girolamo CAVAZZONI (c.1525-1577)
Christus Redemptor omnium [1.51] Canzon sopra fait d’argens [3.00]
Nicolas GOMBERT (1495-1560)
Je prens congié [5.22] Tous les regretz [4.23] Mille regretz [2.57] Mort
et fortune [2.22] Je suys trop jeunette [3.29]
Alberto DA RIPA
Julio SEGNI (1498-1561)
Canova (Francesco) DA MILANO (1497-1543)
Adrian WILLAERT (1490-1562)
Vecchie latrose [2.43] O magnum mysterium [5.00] Lasso chi
I amor [3.31] Io amai sempre [2.49] Monmary ma diffamee [2.20]
Pierre Boragno (recorder); Marianne
Muller (viola da gamba); Massimo Moscardo
(lute); Francois Saint-Yves (organ)
rec. L’eglise de Longchamois, 12-16 May 2008
I was reminded, on acquainting myself
with this CD, of a remark I heard concerning Mozart: In
his time he was known firstly as an improviser, secondly
as a pianist and only thirdly as a composer. The same applies
to most renaissance composers not least those listed here.
Certainly it applies to Sylvestro Ganassi who came from
a vast and musical Venetian family.
If I thought of Ganassi at all I associated
him with solo viol music as represented here. However,
apparently, he was also a wind instrument specialist. What
makes Ganassi significant is that he prepared at great
expense three treatises on improvisation setting out how
to do it, plus a further 175 transcriptions unpublished
and in manuscript. This was an art which took young musicians
many years of training and which you might think is now
lost to us.
Jazz musicians improvise all the time
- classical musicians rarely. It’s good to see, by the
by, that Trinity Guildhall - one of the examination bodies
for graded music exams - has inserted improvisation as
an option along with sight-reading and scales. Anyway,
with Ganassi’s words and examples these four musicians
have set about reconstructing these twenty-three pieces
by the leading composers in Italy c.1540.
The singers at that time had the best
music both sacred and secular. Instrumentalists with their
instruments quickly developed and improved, clearly wanting
a share in the feast and some quality music to get their
fingers around. Yet their role was to imitate the suppleness
and subtlety of the human voice as Pierre Boragno the recorder
player tells us in his fascinating booklet notes. He takes
his inspiration from Baldassare Castiglione’s immortal ‘The
Book of the Courtier’: “I am not satisfied with the courtier
if he is not a musician, and if in addition to the ability
to read a score, he cannot play several instruments”.
The main technique of improvisation was
through making divisions or one should call them ‘diminutions’.
The latter is really a better word in that the minim, for
example, as it passes say upwards to a major 6th can
be filled out with passing notes, perhaps two triplets
or more likely in quavers followed by four semi-quavers
to make the gap appear to be diminished or divided into
smaller sections. The virtuoso would be able to take this
to extremes but still keep the melody to the forefront.
The pieces chosen here are often based on popular tunes
of the day like Willaert’s oft recorded ‘Vecchi letrose’ or
even on liturgical chants like Cavazzoni’s ‘Christe Redemptor’.
Not all of the pieces are subject to improvisation.
Some are transcriptions from, for example, Ganassi’s own
tablature version of Fogliano’s ‘Io vorrei’. It’s interesting
to make compare two versions of Arcadelt’s ‘Quand io penso’,
one highly complex by Girolamo Scotto played on recorder
and organ and the other by Albert de Ripa retaining more
of the elements of dance rhythms played on the lute.
If you listen to the entire CD in one
sitting, something I would rarely recommend you do, you
will find a pleasing track-by-track variety as far as instrumentation
is concerned. Recorder and organ flow into solo lute, then
solo organ, which certainly keeps the attention. It also
allows each performer a chance to shine, culminating in
all four playing in what is consequently a warm and luxuriant
final track – Gombert’s ‘Je prends congie’.
The booklet and CD are attached in the
now quite usual cardboard casing. The former has photos
of the performers and, very usefully the names of the instrument
makers and dates of completion. The recording is intimate
and one feels as if one is sitting on a casement in a private
chamber in some cool Venetian home with the lapping waves
below the open window.
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