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Giacomo GORZANIS (c.1525-c.1575)
La Barca del mio Amore - Napolitane, Balli e Fantasie: from Il primo libro di napolitana (1570), Il secondo libro delle napolitana (1571), Il secondo libro de intabulatura di liuto (1562), Il terzo libro de intabolatura di liuto (1564) and Opera nova de lauto … libro quarto (1579)
Details after review
La Lyra [Pino De Vittorio (voice, nacchere), Fabio Accurso (lute, colascione, drum), Domen Marinčič (viola da gamba), Massimiliano Dragoni (percussion, hammered dulcimer)]/Bor Zuljan (lute, renaissance guitar)
rec. 30 October – 2 November 2017, Vila Vipolže (Slovenia). DDD.
Tuned in equal temperament.
Texts and translations included.
Reviewed as mp3 press preview.
ARCANA A450 [56:48]

I must admit that I had never even heard of the blind composer Giacomo Gorzanis, though his lute music and villanelle have apparently become well known in his native Italy, the former especially as performed on the guitar. The vocal music included here has a rather rough, folksy quality, certainly as sung by Pino de Vittorio, while the instrumental music performed on the lute and renaissance guitar has the sophistication that you would expect of Italian music of the period.

To the best of my knowledge this is the first album devoted to both aspects of Gorzanis’ music, though there’s a CD of his lute music, released by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi in 2017 (88985374332 - review), and individual pieces occur elsewhere. The title piece of the new CD, in alternative spelling as La barcha del moi amore, opens a recording from Hesperion XXI and Jordi Savall. That, as you might expect, receives a livelier approach which I prefer to La Lyra’s rather more sophisticated performance.

I did, however, like the way in which this instrumental piece segues neatly into the final vocal work on the Arcana recording, Il bel viso e gli begli occhi, which itself receives, appropriately, a more sedate performance than the rest of the vocal music. The beautiful face and beautiful eyes referred to in the song bring death to the living and life to the dead, thereby lending an appropriate dying fall to the programme.

Elsewhere, too, de Vittorio is capable of varying his normally forthright style to suit the words, as in Chiara più che’l chiara sol (track 8). The forthright performance of Sta vecchia canaruta (track 12), on the other hand, clearly conveys the singer’s curse on the old harridan whose malicious gossip has turned his girlfriend away from him.

Bor Zuljan’s performance of Recercar secondo (track 7) has a more tentative, exploratory feel than that of Michele Carreca on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi. The same is true of Recercar primo (track 18). Though the term refers to various kinds of composition, the basic meaning of ricercar or recercar derives from an Italian verb meaning to try out or experiment and that’s exactly what Zuljan's performance conveys.

On an album entitled La Serenissima II: Lute Music in Venice 1550-1600, Jakob Lindberg performs four pieces by Gorzanis. If anything, his performance of one of the Recercars conveys even more than Zuljan’s the basic nature of the work. This BIS recording would be worth having for the Gorzanis pieces alone, but the rest of the programme is also desireable, much of it by unjustly neglected composers of the time as well as the better-known Canova da Milano (BIS-CD-599). The performances are all that we have come to expect of Lindberg; it’s available on CD or as a lossless download with pdf booklet from

Incidentally, I’m currently enjoying and putting together a review of Lindberg’s most recent recording, of music from Dowland to Britten, including a transcription for lute of Britten’s Dowland-inspired guitar piece Nocturnal. Due for release on SACD in July 2018, it’s already available to download in mp3, 16- and 24-bit sound from, the latter at 192kHz instead of the usual 96kHz, and in surround sound too (BIS-2082).

On the subject of other recent and pending releases of renaissance music, Arcana have also produced a recording of the 4-, 5- and 6-part madrigals of Luca Marenzio (1553-1599). Though he’s better served than he used to be on record, this would make a useful introduction to his music now that the excellent Glossa series with La Compagnia del Madrigale seems to have stalled after two CDs (GCD922802 – Recording of the Month – GCD922804 – review). Initial impressions of the singing of RossoPorpora directed by Walter Testolin encourage me to plan a review of this too, either on its own or as part of my next roundup of Second Thoughts and Short Reviews. (Arcana A449, L’Amoroso & cruda stile [79:30], heard as streamed with pdf booklet from Naxos Music Library).

Meanwhile the new Arcana release – the recording debut of La Lyra and Bor Zuljan, I believe – makes a strong and enjoyable case for the vocal and instrumental music of Gorzanis. I was surprised to note that they tune in equal temperament, which they justify as having been employed in music of this period more often than is usually believed.

My press preview came in mp3, so I can’t form a conclusive judgement of the recording, but it sounds well enough, even so, for me to suppose that the CD and better-quality downloads will sound fine. I do wish the Outhere group would supply lossless previews: it’s especially galling to see that the tracks are labelled ‘HD’ though they are cut down to mp3 quality. Please let us have them without being cut down: it’s pretty fair to assume that serious reviewers will be able to play the full-strength originals. The notes in the booklet, by lute specialist Dinko Fabris, are helpful and informative.

Brian Wilson

Da che si part’il sol [3:14]
Scarpello si vedrà [3:45]
Duca vi voglio dir [2:52]
Basciami con ssa bocca [1:42]
Saltarello detto Sona Baloni [1:38]
Questi capelli d’or [3:40]
Recercar Secondo [2:09]
Chiara più che ’l chiar sol [3:03]
Passo e mezzo Antico Primo [2:41]
Padoana del detto [1:52]
Saltarel del detto [1:14]
Sta vecchia canaruta [2:55]
L’altro giorno mi disse [3:12]
Passo e mezzo detto Il Gorzanis [2:44]
Saltarel del detto [2:08]
Non è amor [2:05]
Alma perché t’affliggi [3:30]
Recercar Primo [2:10]
La turturella [2:12]
Fantasia Terza [3:27]
La barca del mio amore [2:10]
Il bel vis’e i begl’occhi [2:10]



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