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Harmonia Caelestis - A ray of sunshine piercing the shadows
Gregorio STROZZI (c1615-c1687)/arr. Kah-Ming Ng
Mascara sonata e ballata da più Cavalieri Napolitani nel Regio Palazzo [02:11]
Kah-Ming NG
Ciaccona mosaica - A pastiche of ciaccone by Antonio  Bertali, Andrea Falconieri, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Tarquinio Merula and Claudio Monteverdi [05:49]
Carlo Francesco POLLAROLO (c.1653-1723)
Toccata in g minor [01:39]
Alessandro STRADELLA (1639-1682)
Sinfonia No 22 in d minor [08:15]
Carlo FARINA (c.1604-1639)
Balletto primo à 3 [02:30]
Giovanni Paolo CIMA (c.1570-1630)
Sonata a tre per cornetto, violino and basso continuo [03:25]
Alessandro PICCININI (1566-c.1638)/arr. Lynda Sayce
Chiaccona Cappona alla vera Spagnola [04:00]
Francesco CAVALLI (1602-1676)
Canzon à 3 in a minor [00:51]
Giulio MUSSI (1589-1623)
Canzona l'Amaltea per sonar 'a doi Canti in ecco' [03:32]
Sinfonia per sonare con doi violini over cornetti à 3 [01:43]
Giovanni Antonio TERZI (fl. c.1580-1600)
Contraponto sopra Vestiva i colli per sonar a duoi liutti in quarta o in concerto [05:39]
Giovanni PICCHI (fl. 1600-1625)/arr. Kah-Ming Ng
Ballo alla Polacha [04:54]
Giovanni BASSANO (1561-1617)
Diminuzioni per basso and canto sopra Veni, veni, dilecte mi da G.P. da Palestrina [04:22]
Kah-Ming NG
Ciaccona mosaica - A pastiche of bergamasche by Girolamo Frescobaldi, Bernardo Gianoncelli, Bernardo Pasquini, Salamone Rossi, Giovanni Salvatore and Giovanni Battista Vitali
Charivari Agréable: Jamie Savan (cornett, cornetto muto), Oliver Webber (violin, viola), Susanne Heinrich (treble viol, bass viol, violone), Lynda Sayce (lute, bass lute, guitar, chitarrone), Kah-Ming Ng (harpsichord, organ)
rec. May 2004, St Andrew's Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire, UK. DDD
SIGNUM SIGCD049 [60:11]


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In 17th-century Italy the cornett and the violin were in competition as to which of the two was the most expressive instrument. In the first half of the century the winner was the cornett, as it was better suited to imitate the human voice than the violin. The cornett was often used - mostly in combination with sackbuts - to support singers, but also as a substitute for the human voice, in particular in sacred music.

But these two instruments were also often used together, and many compositions were written for either cornett or violin. And then there were pieces to be played 'con ogni sorti stromenti', with all kinds of instruments, which leaves the choice to the performer. And even without an addition like that, composers were often very flexible as far as instrumentation is concerned. Many pieces written for a specific instrument can be played on other instruments as well.

The ensemble Charivari Agréable aims at bringing to life the variety in performance practice of music of the 17th century. The programme on this disc is representative of their programmes, both in concert and in recordings.

Features of the ensemble's performances are improvisation, adaptation and arrangement, all with respect for what we know about the performance practice of the 17th century. The art of improvisation isn't only reflected in the ornamentation in the pieces played here, but also in the choice of compositions: in particular the diminutions on madrigals and motets are examples of the kind of improvisation practice in the early 17th century.

Examples of the practice of adaptation are to be found here in pieces for lute and keyboard, which are treated as compositions for an ensemble of instruments. In regard to arrangement, this ensemble goes as far as composing new pieces on the basis of existing compositions. On this disc we find two examples of such pieces, called 'pastiches' of ciaconas and bergamascas by several composers. The ciacona and the bergamasca belonged to the most popular forms of the 17th century.

These pastiches are the least satisfactory parts of this recording, as they lack inner coherence because of the differences between the compositions on which they are based. Otherwise this is a most enjoyable disc, containing a mixture of lesser-known pieces, and pretty well-known ones played in a rather unconventional manner.

Every player of the ensemble is a virtuoso on his or her instrument and the ensemble playing is immaculate and full of vigour. As the repertoire never fails to fascinate because of its sheer beauty and brilliance, this is definitely a disc worth listening to.

Johan van Veen





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