Bellerofonte CASTALDI (c.1581-1649)
La Follia [4:49]
*Capriccio Bischizzoso [4:26]
Lusinghevole Passeggio [2:11]
Furiosa (Corrente) [1:27]
Fantasticaria 'Gioviale' [2:23]
Cecchina (Corrente) [1:19]
*Florida (Corrente) [2:11]
Arpesca (Corrente) [2:10]
*Capriccio 'Cerimonioso' [3:48]
+Dunque Clarida - *#Intrata e Ritornello [9:11]
Ferita d'Amore (Gagliarda) [3:18]
*Capriccio Svegliatoio [3:29]
Tasteggio Soave [3:40]
*Sonata I [3:41]
+Vissi Allor - #Ritornello [3:05]
*Mascherina (Canzone) [5:54]
#Composed by Evangelina Mascardi
Evangelina Mascardi (theorbo)
*Mónica Pustilnik (theorbino)
+Marco Beasley (tenor)
rec. San Rocco Church, Miasino, Novara, Italy, 23-26 October 2010. DDD
ARCANA A368 [58:01]
Anyone seeking sanctuary from the stresses of modern life could do much worse than listen to Bellerofonte Castaldi's beautiful music and be wafted back to a time long before mobile phones, cars, pop stars and billions of people all competing with each other for attention and the planet's resources. This recital provides an hour's worth of direct nourishment for the soul and the senses.
Most of the pieces are for theorbo solo or theorbo and theorbino duet, all of these coming from Castaldi's 1622 collection, Capricci a due Stromenti. The two items for voice and theorbo, the first of which does not appear until the second half of the recital, come from his 1623 publication, Il Primo Mazzetto di Fiori Musicalmente Colti dal Giardino Bellerofonteo ('The First Bouquet of Flowers Musically Gathered from the Bellerofontean Garden'). That garden metaphor is apt: Castaldi's pieces are the musical equivalent of warm evening sunshine under blue skies: fragrant, intimate, life-affirming, poetical, utterly lyrical: this is John Dowland without the melancholia!
The CD title Ferita d'Amore (literally 'Wound of Love', but less prosaically expressed along the lines of 'Love Hurts') comes from a galliard that appears in the recital. The musicians and track-list group the pieces into three sets, reflecting the love-related sub-themes of joy, contemplation and devotion, but there is no obvious discontinuity in the music itself.
Castaldi was more than a friend to Monteverdi. He was in fact a genuine Renaissance Man: lute virtuoso, poet, engraver, satirist, swordsman, rider, all-round maverick. His highly original music has received relatively little attention to date, and this Arcana release is already one of the most important CD monographs, along with a partly overlapping Toccata Classics disc released a couple of years ago (review) and Alpha's very first release, a song-based recital by Guillemette Laurens, a decade earlier (001).
Argentina-born Italian lutenist Evangelina Mascardi has made many recordings for various labels and has worked with Ensemble 415 and the Ricercar Consort, among others. Her performance here is ideal: thoughtful, warm, expressive, winning. Though she does not get star billing like Mascardi, the contribution of Mónica Pustilnik, Argentinean despite her surname, is considerable. The rarely heard theorbino, or tiorbino, is, as the name suggests, a small theorbo pitched an octave higher, and adds a colour all of its own to the music of Castaldi, who is said to have invented it and was thus the first - and possibly last! - composer to write for it. Naples-born Marco Beasley is something of a specialist in early Italian Baroque repertoire, and brings a wealth of experience to his two songs. Although his folk-style interpretation may not have the same wide appeal as Mascardi's theorbo, it arguably lends the music greater authenticity and sits very well with its intimate tone.
The recording is of the highest quality. The church at San Rocco was rebuilt during Castaldi's lifetime, completed a year before his death. Small font aside, the lavish booklet is attractively designed, replete with lengthy quadrilingual notes, photos and sung texts. The only omission, and a rather surprising one at that, are biographies of the performers. Note-writer David Dolata gets one, even the parish church gets one, but not the musicians!
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk
Fragrant, intimate, life-affirming, poetical, utterly lyrical.