This recording is a selection of works by Girolamo
Frescobaldi, a pivotal Italian composer, at the junction between the
renaissance and the baroque. The works included here are songs and instrumental
pieces, for a variety of instruments. There is an overall "troubadour"
sound in the music; the livelier songs have the dance rhythms of renaissance
music as heard across Europe at the time, and, while they adopt the
characteristics of the Italian idiom, they also sound very much like
the music heard in Spain and Southern France in the same period.
Anthonello is a talented group of musicians, playing
instruments including cornetto, recorder, viola da gamba, harpsichord,
harp, theorbo and baroque guitar, as well as the magnificent soprano
voice of Midori Suzuki. Each of the musicians has a chance to show their
talents, since the various pieces here are almost all scored differently
- there are songs where all the musicians are involved, as well as solos
for almost all of them. This gives this disc the agreeable feeling of
a recital, rather than a compendium of music.
However, the recording poses problems at times. The
cornetto can be too present, to the detriment of the softer instruments,
and, after a while, almost becomes grating. The harpsichord, on the
other hand, is often relegated to the background. This uneven recording
greatly detracts from the overall impression of this disc, especially
since the instrumentation changes from one track to another.
Nevertheless, there is a wide variety of music here,
and it is all performed with great talent. From the songs with soprano
Midori Suzuki, such as Se l’aura spira, with its plaintive melodies,
to the solo works, such as the haunting, melancholy harp solo, Toccata
tertii toni, or the plaintive harpsichord piece, Toccata nona, that
recalls the keyboard music of William Byrd, this recording shows the
variety of music composed by Frescobaldi. All of the musicians are excellent,
and the diverse instrumentation adds to the experience.
This is a very interesting recording, featuring a wide
variety of works and instrumentations. With the diversity of a recital,
this disc will delight all those who enjoy Italian renaissance music.