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Alfabeto Songs - Guitar songs from 17th-century
Italy Giovanni STEFANI (fl. 1618-1626) Amante felice (sopra l'aria della Ciaccona)* [3:57] Alma mia (Aria della Folia)* [2:58] Giovanni Girolamo KAPSBERGER c. 1580-1651) Rosa Bianca* [3:37] Giovanni Paolo FOSCARINI (fl. 1629-1647) Aria di Fiorenza sopra C [2:58] Marcantonio Aldigiatti DE CESENA (?) Deh volgetemi il guardo* [4:32] Flamminio CORRADI (fl. 1615-1644) Odi Euterpe*/** [3:52] Giovanni Paolo FOSCARINI Ciacona in C [1:41] Francesco CORBETTA (c.1615-1681) Passacaglia in A [2:05] Girolamo MONTESARDO (fl. 1606-c.1620) Anima dove sei* [4:57] Tarquinio MERULA (1594/95-1665) Quando io volsi l'altra sera* [3:06] Giovanni STEFANI O voi ch'intorno al lagrimoso canto* [3:32] Bartolomeo BARBARINO de Fabriano (c.1570-after 1640) Bella è la Donna mia*/** [3:12] Gaspar SANZ (1640-1710) Passacaglia in D [3:43] Girolamo MONTESARDO La Grave* [3:26] Giovanni Girolamo KAPSBERGER Felici gl'animi*/** [2:40] Francesco CORBETTA Passacaglia in B [3:09] Giovanni STEFANI Partenza* [4:49]
Raquel Andueza*, Theresa Dlouhy** (soprano)
Private Musicke (Richard Myron (violone, colascione), Jesús Fernandez
Baena (theorbo), Daniel Pilz (colascione), Pierre Pitzl, Hugh Sandilands
(guitar), David Mayoral (percussion))/Pierre Pitzl
rec. January 2012, Bischöfliches Palais, St Pölten, Austria DDD
Lyrics and translations included ACCENT ACC 24273 [58:24]
The title of this disc refers to a fingering notation system for chords.
It was developed in the wake of the emergence of the five-string chitarra
espagnola around 1580. In this system a single letter is assigned
to each guitar chord, for instance the A indicating G major,
whereas numbers above single letters refer to barré chords.
This term is used to describe the technique of stopping all or several
of the strings at the same point by holding a finger across them,
as explained in New Grove. The number denotes the fret used
for the barré. Some composers utilised letters for dissonant
chords and acciaccaturas. The programme of this disc brings
together pieces by Italian composers from the first half of the 17th
century - those for voice and guitar or for guitar solo. In many vocal
compositions the choice of accompanying instruments was left to the
performer, and could include harpsichord or organ, but also theorbo
or harp. The use of the alfabeto in songs is an indication
that the composer meant the voice to be accompanied by the guitar.
It was mostly the more light-hearted repertoire in which the guitar
was involved. Among these are especially the villanelle and
canzonette. These were usually written in strophic form and
avoid heavy emotions. These were quite popular in the late 16th and
early 17th centuries. Even composers of high stature such as Lassus,
Monteverdi or Kapsberger contributed to these genres.
This disc includes many pieces by lesser-known composers, such as
Girolamo Montesardo and Bartolomeo Barbarino de Fabriano. Giovanni
Girolamo Kapsberger was one of the most famous theorbo players of
his time and moved in the highest circles in Rome. Francesco Corbetta
was the greatest guitar player of his time, according to Gaspar Sanz,
no mean talent himself.
A special case is Giovanni Paolo Foscarini who travelled across Europe
and caused some sensation with his playing of the guitar. There appears
to be some evidence that he performed with other players and therefore
a performance with some instruments could be justified. In most other
cases that seems rather questionable, though. As the list of members
of Private Musicke suggests, these songs involve more than a single
guitar. It is regrettable that Pierre Pitzl in his liner-notes doesn't
discuss this aspect. I doubt that the music scores give any indication
of the involvement of more than one instrument. The inclusion of percussion
in almost every piece is, in particular, debatable. At the end of
the third stanza of Deh volgetemi il guardo the accompaniment
is so dominant that the vocal line is almost relegated to the background.
Raquel Andueza is a specialist in 17th-century vocal music and has
some fine recordings to her name. Her light and agile voice is excellently
suited to this repertoire. She doesn't try too much which is
as well because this music does not call for a very emotional approach.
La Grave by Girolamo Montesardo is different: this is a kind
of monody as we know it from the likes of Giulio Caccini. Here Ms
Andueza's performance is strong on dynamic contrasts and she
colours her voice according to the words. There are some other items
where I felt that more of this would have led to a more incisive result.
I have in mind the ones by Aldigiatti de Cesena and Stefani's
O voi ch'intorno. The latter is not the composer,
by the way, but the editor of the collection from which the several
pieces are taken; the authors of the songs are not known.
This disc is interesting in regard to the repertoire. The guitar is
regularly used these days in 17th century music, but discs devoted
to songs specifically intended for guitar accompaniment are rare.
The inclusion of pieces by various hardly-known composers makes the
project even more worthwhile. The questionable aspects - although
regrettable – have not in way diminished my enjoyment. If you are
a guitar aficionado or a lover of 17th-century Italian repertoire
there’s no need to hesitate. This disc will make a nice addition to
Johan van Veen