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Con voce quasi humana - Vocal music of the Trecento
Ensemble Perlaro/Lorenza Donadini
rec. 2015, Schloss Beuggen in Rheinfelden (Baden)
RAUMKLANG RK3501 [65:32]

I came to this new release lacking prior knowledge of the vocal music of the Trecento. The liner notes by Dr. Mikhail Lopatin of Oxford University are scholarly, detailed and exhaustive and are as comprehensive as any you’ll find. They supply all the information needed. These are given in German, English and Italian, as are full vocal texts and translations. The period roughly spans the late 1300s until around 1420. During this time there was a great flourishing of the arts in Italy, not only in music, but in architecture, painting and literature. Much of the earliest Trecento music originates from the Rossi Codex, whilst the later is sourced from the Squarialupi Codex, with some from the north Italian codices. The works on this disc can be divided into three groups: madrigals (7), ballatas (9) and caccias (1). In the second half of the Trecento the madrigals and ballatas were to suffer decline, whilst the caccias continued to flourish in popularity.

Ensemble Perlaro employs six singers in this recording, with Lorenza Donadini assuming the role of director, as well as contributing vocally. The performances of each of the works employ a varying number of voices, from ‘Che ti çova nasconder’ with one, the majority with two or three and ‘Con dolce brama’ utilising all six. The voices are unaccompanied. Challenge Classics (CC72195) released a CD entitled: Stylems: Italian Music from the Trecento in 2008, where voices are reinforced with percussion, recorders, lutes, fiddle and harp. I haven't listened to this recording to offer any sort of comparison, as to whether instrumental backup is a benefit.

Subject matter is widely varied. Jacopo da Bolognas ‘In verde prat’a’ tells of lovers singing and dancing in a verdant meadow, whilst Lorenzo da Firenze’s ‘A poste messe veltri e gran mastini’ vividly paints a hunting scene. Somewhat darker subject matter is found in Niccolo da Perugia’s ‘Tal mi fa guerra che mi mostra pace’, which speaks of plotting and intrigue.

I initially had some reservations about this release. I thought that maybe there would be some monotony, sameness and lack of variety. My fears were soon dispelled. I am amazed by the richness and diversity of this repertoire. Added to this, the performances have been well-recorded, with the recording venue ideal in facilitating clarity of diction and phrasing. All told, this is an immensely gratifying CD, one that has given me a great deal of pleasure. It gets my warmest recommendation.

Stephen Greenbank 
Francesco LANDINI (1325-1397)
Per seguir la sperança [3:46]
Anon: O crudel donna, madrigal  [3:31]
Jacopo da BOLOGNA (active 1340-ca.1386)
I' sentì già [4:24]
Giovanni da FIRENZE (active 1340-ca.1350)
Donna fia fu' leggiadr'annamorata [3:31]
Gherardello da FIRENZE (ca.1320-ca.1362)
Per non far lieto alcun de la mia doglia [3:40]
Jacopo da BOLOGNA
In verde prat’a [3:13]
Niccolo da PERUGIA (active 1350)
Tal mi fa guerra che mi mostra pace [3:23]
Bartolino da PADOVA (active 1365-1405)
Per un verde boschetto, ballata for 3 voices [3:39]
Quel sole che nutrica'l gentil fiore [5:14]
Francesco LANDINI
Dè, dimmi tu [2:43]
Anon: Che ti çova nasconder [3:14]
Francesco LANDINI
Nessun ponga speranza [5:16]
Anon: O zentil madona mia [3:44]
Lorenzo da FIRENZE (14C)
A poste messe veltri e gran mastini [7:10]
Andrea da FIRENZE (14C)
Donna, se per te moro [2:65]
Bartolino da PADOVA
Ricorditi di me, maddonna mia [3:56]
Magister PIERO (active 1340-1350)
Con dolce brama [2:07]



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