This is a delicious disk, full of the most interesting and unusual
things. It’s a tribute to the two players that such a fascinating
and varied recital could be planned for it seems to be quite a
miracle that the music has survived for information on many of
the composers is so scant.
imagine that you write a great set of madrigals, they’re published
but in 400 years no–one really knows where or when you were
born and died, and were it not for that solitary publication
nobody, today, would have heard of you. So it is with some
of these composers. I did a little research on each of the
composers represented on this disk and the phrase which occurred
in almost every source I consulted was “very little is known
about his life”.
our lack of knowledge, we do have the music – and what we
have here is glorious in its variety, and to make the recital
even more interesting there are solo pieces interspersed with
the duo works.
what of this music? Ortiz was Spanish by birth and there is
a real Spanish feel to his music. He published
two books of music: Tratado de Glosas in 1553 and Musices
liber primus in 1565. The three works in this collection
all come from the first book.
No.2 is a very jolly dance, requiring
some virtuosity on the part of the recorder player, while
Recercada segunda de canto Ilano, a stately piece,
and Recercada prima sobre doulce mémoire
a movement of grave nobility are for psaltry alone.
van Eyck was Dutch and, amongst his many
accomplishments, he was a virtuoso recorder player. Der
Fluyten Lust-hof (The Flute’s Garden of Delights, or perhaps, Pleasure Garden)
is a collection of pieces – folk songs, dance tunes and contemporary
songs – for soprano recorder which rerquire some dexterity
from the player. Derde, Doen Daphne d'over is a particularly
beautiful lament for the solo instrument, Amarilli Mia
Bella is an arrangement for recorder and psaltery of a
piece by Giulio Caccini and van Eyck’s
other two pieces are up–tempo dance numbers.
are absolutely no biographical details whatsoever about Dario
Castello. Did he work at St Mark’s in Venice when Monteverdi
was maestro di capella? It’s
thought that he might have died in the great plague of 1630
for he published no music after that date. Only 29 compositions
survive and this Sonata Seconda
is a very challenging work for the players, written in a variety
of contrasting sections.
probably know about the life of John Dowland than of most
of the other composers here, but there are still gaps in our
knowledge of him. There is a special melancholy in Dowland’s
music and the two songs presented here, and played by solo
psaltery, are full; of that wistfulness.
Schop is a totally new name to me. In
1756 Leopold Mozart made comment on the difficulty of a trill
in one of Schop’s works! This Lachrime Pavaen is one of the most serious
compositions on this disk and it has a depth of feeling which
goes far beyond the mere few minutes playing time.
Giovanni Bassano was a cornettist employed from 1576 in various posts
at St Mark's, Venice, including, from 1601, conductor of the
orchestra. His 1591 he published a collection of ornamented
versions of motets and madrigals by leading composers such
as Palestrina, Lassus and Rore. His two works heard here are
alternately slow and reflective and dance–like – the Divisions
on Frais et Gaillard makes a fabulously joyous conclusion
to the whole recital.
Battista Fontana is known solely for one, posthumous, publication
which consists of six sonatas for violin and bass and six
more for two violins and bass. A note states that he came
from Brescia and worked in various cities in Italy, but that
seems to be the sum of our knowledge of him. The Sonatas in
this publication contain some of the earliest works in that
form, and the bass is more independent than was usual for
that time. They are designed to be played by many different
combinations and these Sonatas work very well for recorder
and chitarrone. The Sonata sesta is a lighter work
than its companion, the Sonata Seconda, which contains
a particularly striking dance section in the middle.
Marini was a virtuoso violinist and his compositions were
published and known throughout the European musical world.
He traveled throughout his life, and occupied many posts in
Europe. It seems that he married three times and had five
children. As befits a virtuoso of the violin his works contirbuted
to the development of string playing by expanding the repertoire
of both solo and accompanied violin and incorporating the
slur, double and triple stopping. He used the very first notated
tremolando in his music. Sadly none of this is in evidence
in his Passacalio which is another stately processional.
is a fascinating and most enjoyable recital of music which,
under normal circumstances, I would have ignored. It is easy
to forget just what a wealth and variety of music was being
created during the 150 years before the birth of J S Bach
and we are to be grateful to Pamela Thorby, Andrew Lawrence–King
and Linn Records for bringing this work to our attention.
I am saddened that there is only one solo for the recorder,
when there are several for the harp and psaltery but I must
not carp, this is a sheer delight. Andrew Lawrence–King’s
essay in the booklet is fascinating and the recording is bright
and clear, but with little reverberation, and an astonishing