Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Music from the time of Claudio Monteverdi
The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble
with Robert Howarth (keyboards) Adrian Chandler & Warren Zeilinski (violins) & Mark Chambers (counter-tenor)
Deux-Elles DXL 913 [62 mins]



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1. La Novella (Milan 1606) - Andrea Cima
2. La Gentile a 4 (Milan 1617) - Andrea Cima
3. Sonata a 6 (Venice 1636) - Giovanni Buonamente
4. O quam tu pulchra es (Venice 1625) - Alessandro Grandi
5. La Feliciana a 4 (Venice 1597) - Adriano Banchieri
6. Canzona a 5 (Venice 1608) - Claudio Merula
7. Quoniam tu, Domine - Alfonso Ferrabosco
8. The Queen's Alman (London c.1600) - William Byrd
9. La Malvezza a 4 (Venice 1600) - Antonio Mortaro
10. Suono del Ballo de' Selvaggi (Naples 1620) - Giacomo Spiardo
11. Salve Regina (Venice 1621) - Alessandro Grandi
12. Sinfonia, Intermedio IV a 6 (Florence 1589) - Christoforo Malvezzi
13. Sinfonia, Intermedio V a 6 (Florence 1589) - Christoforo Malvezzi
14. Sinfonia Antica (Naples 1620) - Anon
15. La Morari (Venice 1597) - Giovanni Cavaccio
16. L'Alcenagina (Venice 1597) - Adriano Banchieri
17. Pass' e Mezzo (Venice 1621) - Giovanni Picchi
18. La Bignani (Venice 1597) - Giovanni Cavaccio
19. Lauda Sion Salvatorem (Venice 1621) - Alessandro Grandi
20. Spagnoletta (Naples 1620) - Hettorre della Marra

The luscious cover image of Venus amusing herself with Cupid and Music (Tiziano Vecellio) is matched by the pleasures of nigh perfect performance, recording and presentation of a happy sequence of late 16C and early 17C music for brass, played on authentic instruments of the period which, not many decades ago, were fickle and unreliable. I recall well marvelling at the skill of Don Smithers on cornetto at one of the first recording sessions of Italian cornetto music, for Argo in the late '60s.

This group plays with ease and a superb blend of tones, enhanced by the choice of venue (St Mary's Church, near my home in Blackheath) which combines just the right amount of resonance with clarity in the part-writing. Variety is introduced with strings and the counter-tenor Mark Chambers, who is suitably intense in Grandi's O Quam tu pulchra es (maybe just a little inclined to shrillness in the higher register, but not unpleasantly so) and sings his Salve Regina, at a lower tessitura, with suave beauty and poise, accompanied by cornettos and organ.

The selection is of composers who were colleagues of Monteverdi and might have influenced him. Useful information is supplied in brief about each of them. Ferrabosco and his son worked in England, and Byrd earns a place because Mortaro uses a tune from his Queen's Alman.

A particular pleasure is the simple and effective coding which makes it clear who takes part in each track and on what instruments. A winning collection which we have already played through several times.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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