Girolamo Frescobaldi’s chamber music has been somewhat neglected in favor of his more famous keyboard compositions. This recording presents a selection Frescobaldi’s music for small ensembles as it could have been heard in performance at, for example, an early 17th century salon.
Perhaps the best known pieces on this disc are the canzonas for bass instrument and continuo, which are among the earliest published repertoire for solo bass instrument. Like the discant and bass canzonas, they show a composer exploring the new instrumental conventions of the early 17th century.
Total time: 00:58:16
|Original Recording Format|
"The Location" in Antwerp, Belgium
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||February 1, 2018|
“This disc contains examples of canzone for a string group which shows how versatile and imaginative Frescobaldi’s development of the form could be. The instrumental pieces are interspersed by Arias for soprano and harpsichord, sung by Mezzo-soprano Nancy Mayer. Sensitively accompanied by Kris Verhelst, she has a bright, sunny voice just right for these Italianate songs, some of which are dramatic scenes of great emotional import, such as a Crisis of Faith and Maria Magdalen’s lament at the Cross.
The instrumental canzone are in the capable hands of Ensemble Braccio, a quartet comprised of period instruments – a soprano violin, two tenor violins and a bass violin. Ensemble Braccio is faultless, and their enjoyment of the music is well communicated. Frescobaldi was not without a sense of humor. Some of the earliest pieces for solo bass violin, which juxtaposes gamboling in its deep cello-like register with its piping upper range, must have raised much laughter in a contemporary after-dinner recital.
Beautifully presented in a realistic recording, the immediacy of the players is superbly captured, yet the voices and instruments have plenty of air around to develop their tone. The album in Multichannel DSD is particularly effective. Useful booklet notes explain the music’s special qualities, but no translations of the Italian aria texts are given. This doesn’t matter greatly; as ever with Baroque music, they are about Love, either requited or unrequited, do the music itself and Nancy Mayer as an exponent are very able to indicate what the songs are telling us.
I have no hesitation in giving this very entertaining and instructive recording my full recommendation.
Performance, Stereo Sonics and Multichannel Sonics: 5 out of 5 Stars”
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