Three from Arcana

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Program: #18-42   Air Date: Oct 09, 2018

The wonderful label dedicated to rarely-heard music gives us music by Giacomo Gorzanus, passionate works of Luca Marenzio, and early 16th century works for two vihuelas.

NOTE: Founded in 1992 by the legendary Michel Bernstein, Arcana is devoted to the exploration of lesser-known composers from the Medieval to the beginning of the twentieth-century mostly focusing on Italian repertoire and interpreters.

I. Giacomo Garzanis: La Barca del Mio Amore (La Lyra Ensemble/Bor Zuljan). Arcana CD A 450.

Gorzanis: La Barca del Mio Amore - Napolitane, Balli e Fantasie
From Gramophone: Modern guitarists and listeners will be most familiar with the music of blind Apulian lutenist and composer Giacomo Gorzanis (c1530-c1575) through the arrangements of the 19th-century Italian musicologist Oscar Chilesotti and others. In more recent times, Gorzanis’s lute music has appeared in recitals by such modern masters of the lute as Jakob Lindberg. This extraordinary release is, however, perhaps the first to bring Gorzanis’s instrumental and vocal music so comprehensively to life. Colourful, imaginative arrangements for an ensemble comprising lutes, guitar, colascione, gamba, dulcimer and percussion of some of Gorzanis’s songs and dances are interspersed with lute solos and songs merely with lute or gamba accompaniment.
AdTech AdThe ensemble is the Slovenian early music band La Lyra. The vocalist is the Puglian tenor and actor Pino De Vittorio. Overseeing proceedings as artistic director is the protean lutenist and guitarist Bor Zuljan. Together they not so much make music as smash the joint, such is the extrovert nature of the bulk of the songs, regardless of whether the singer is complaining about a deceptive procuress or bragging about the conquest of a ‘pink cheeked, rotund maid’.

The programme opens deceptively morosely, with ‘Da che si part’il sol’, a wretched lover’s lament. But things heat up pretty quickly, with scathing saltarellos and vituperative villanellas tumbling one after another like players in a commedia dell’arte farce. Though, to be fair, there are moments of stately reflection, such as the slow dance of ‘Chiara più che ’l chiar sol’ to drum and lutes, as well as graceful lute solos such as the Recercar secondo and Fantasia. 

La Lyra 
Pino De Vittorio, voice, nacchere
Fabio Accurso, lute, colascione, tambor
Domen Marincic, viola da gamba 
Massimiliano Dragoni, percusión, dulcimer 
Bor Zuljan, lute, guitar

Giacomo Gorzanis (c.1530-c.1575): 

La barca del mio amore 
napolitane, balli e fantasie 
1 Da che si part’il sol [PDV, BZ, FA] 3’14 
2 Scarpello si vedrà [PDV, BZ, FA, DM, MD] 3’45 
3 Duca vi voglio dir [PDV, BZ, FA, DM, MD] 2’52 
4 Basciami con ssa bocca [PDV, BZ, FA, DM, MD] 1’42 
5 Saltarello detto Sona Baloni [BZ, FA, DM, MD] 1’38 
6 Questi capelli d’or [PDV, BZ] 3’40 
7 Recercar Secondo [BZ] 2’09 
8 Chiara più che ’l chiar sol [PDV, BZ, FA, DM, MD] 3’03 
9 Passo e mezzo Antico Primo* [BZ, FA, MD] 2’41 
10 Padoana del detto [BZ, FA, MD] 1’52 
11 Saltarel del detto [BZ, FA, MD] 1’14 
12 Sta vecchia canaruta [PDV, BZ, FA, DM, MD] 2’55 
13 L’altro giorno mi disse [PDV, BZ, FA, DM, MD] 3’12 
14 Passo e mezzo detto Il Gorzanis* [BZ, FA, MD] 2’44 
15 Saltarel del detto [BZ, FA, MD] 2’08 
16 Non è amor [PDV, BZ, FA, DM, MD] 2’05 
17 Alma perché t’affliggi [PDV, DM] 3’30 
18 Recercar Primo [BZ] 2’10 
19 La turturella [PDV, BZ, DM] 2’12 
20 Fantasia Terza [BZ] 3’27 
21 La barca del mio amore [BZ, MD] 2’10 
22 Il bel vis’e i begl’occhi [PDV, BZ, FA, DM, MD] 2’10 


II. Cifras Imaginarias (Ariel Abramovich & Jacob Heringman, vihuelas). Arcana CD A 428.

Cifras Imaginarias
A leading vihuela specialist, the Argentinian virtuoso Ariel Abramovich has already devoted two albums to the favourite instrument of the Iberian Renaissance, the first on Arcana (Esteban Daça, El Parnasso, A316, 2002) and the second on Carpe Diem (Diego Pisador, Si me llaman, 2009). For this third instalment he is joined by one of the world’s most respected and innovative solo lutenists, Jacob Heringman, for a vihuela duo project which is the result of years of research and performing. While there is a significant number of publications for two lutes from the sixteenth century, only one of the seven collections for vihuela de mano includes duets, and it is precisely that collection that was the main source of inspiration for this project. The performers, both highly experienced with intabulations of sixteenth-century music, decided to recreate an ‘imaginary’ book of vihuela duets, following the taste and practice of the ancient masters, who through a notation system of ‘numbers’ used to arrange works by the composers they listened to and played. Cifras Imaginarias is the poetic name they have given to an imaginary music collection of vihuela duos of the kind that might have been published in the mid-sixteenth century.
  1. Josquin Desprez - Illibata Dei Virgo nutrix 07:37
  2. Adrian Willaert - Ricercar 7 02:19
  3. Thomas Crécquillon - Mor me a prive (Arr. by Francisco Fernández Palero) 02:45
  4. Giulio Segni da Modena - Ricercar 02:13
  5. Antonio de Cabezón - Un gay bergier 03:04
  6. Philippe Verdelot - Italia mia 03:35
  7. Antonio de Cabezón - Pavana italiana 03:22
  8. Josquin Desprez - Dulces exuviae 03:14
  9. Francesco Canova da Milano - Fantasia, Op. 82 01:39
  10. Francisco Fernández Palero - Passeavase el rey moro 01:01
  11. Claudin de Sermisy - Dont vient cela (Arr. by Antonio de Cabezón) 03:02
  12. Philippe Verdelot - Ultimi miei sospiri 02:37
  13. Francesco da Milano - Fantasia, Op. 22 01:56
  14. Anonymous - Y con qué la lavaré 02:15
  15. Juan Vasquez - Dizen a mí que los amores he 02:29
  16.  Juan Vasquez - De los álamos vengo, madre 01:57
  17. Josquin Desprez - Pater Noster 04:56
  18. Josquin Desprez - Ave Maria 03:22

    III. Marenzio: L’Amoroso & Crudo Stile (Rossoporpora Ensemble/Walter Testolin). Arcana CD A 449.

    A449. MARENZIO L’amoroso e crudo stile
    From Early Music Review: Once in a while – rather more rarely than some would have us believe – a truly exceptional recording comes along, a recording of such musical merit and artistic quality that it stops us in our tracks. This is such a CD. It represents a debut for the Italian vocal ensemble Rossoporpora, which has perhaps unwisely chosen to call itself by the same name as an Italian underwear firm (if you want to see what I mean, google it). For their programme they have turned to Luca Marenzio, arguably the greatest of all ‘pure’ madrigal composers.

    Marenzio’s extensive output is dominated by his secular works, in particular no fewer than 18 books of madrigals for five or six voices, published in Venice between 1580 and 1599, the year of his death. A single book of four-part madrigals appeared in Rome in 1585. A dozen of these books are represented on the present CD, performed in roughly chronological order, excellent planning that allows us to follow Marenzio’s development as a composer. Such evolution is concerned more with emotional weight and substance than with significant stylistic change, for Marenzio showed little inclination to break the mould of the unaccompanied polyphonic madrigal in the manner Monteverdi would do so dramatically just a few years later. Neither, despite his contribution to the famous 1589 Florentine wedding intermedio, did Marenzio show any interest in the emergence of the revolutionary stile recitativo.

    It is customary to divide Marenzio’s madrigal output into two distinctive phases. The first, characterised by an easy grace, mellifluous elegance and ‘sweetness’ was widely praised by his contemporaries both in Italy and further afield. It was what won him his reputation throughout Europe. The second, heralded by the composer himself as being composed ‘in a quite different manner from the past, tending […] towards – I shall say – a sorrowful gravity’, is the ‘crudo (cruel) stile’ of the present disc’s title. This was marked, starting with the seminal Madrigali a 4, 5 et 6 voci of 1588, by a new concentration on serious texts by the great Italian poets of the past, above all the peerless sonnets of Petrarch. This division serves as a handy reference, but is also simplistic, as the CD shows, for as well as beguiling examples of Marenzio’s earlier style such as ‘Come inanti de l’alba’, with its ravishing ethereal opening, the dissonant pain of pieces such as ‘Dolorosi martir’ (from the 5-part Madrigals, Book 1 of 1580) plumb depths of emotion as searing as do such great Petrarchan madrigals as ‘Solo e pensoso’ or ‘Crudele, acerba’.

    As suggested at the outset the performances are outstanding, indeed they are near-exemplary on both technical and interpretative grounds. The seven voices of Rossoporpora, all excellent in their own right, blend beautifully in whatever combination they are employed, being superbly balanced in contrapuntal writing, while perfectly chorded in the homophonic passages with which the composer so skilfully employs contrast. The realisation of the texts, so acutely understood and set by Marenzio, is achieved with a complete understanding of both musical and literary syntax perhaps only achievable fully in this repertoire by singing in one’s native language. Neither are the performances frightened of employing tempo fluctuations to expressive means, which to my mind pays big dividends in a long text like ‘Cruda Amarilli’ (from Guarini’s Il pastor fido). But these are performances not to analyse, but rather to admire, to savour, to delight in, to share exquisite suffering in.

    A couple of practical points. Two of the madrigals are performed in intabulations for two lutes, common practice at the time with popular pieces, while two others are given by solo voices and two lutes. Less successful is the addition of the two lutes to ‘Non vidi’, one of the 4vv madrigals, since they distract attention from the vocal polyphony. The loss of a star from ‘overall presentation’ is accounted for by booklet text of a size that would severely test the eyes of even an owl. But there can be no doubting that this is now unquestionably the finest available recording of a selection of Marenzio madrigals. It is, in a single word, magnificent. 

    • Come inanti de l'alba
    • Cruda Amarilli che co 'l nom' ancora
    • Crudele acerba inesorabil' morte
    • Crudel, perché mi fuggi
    • Dolorosi martir
    • Due rose fresche
    • Fuggito è ’l sonno
    • Liquide perle
    • Non vidi mai dopo notturna pioggia
    • Occhi lucenti e belli
    • O fere stelle
    • O verdi selve
    • Qual vive salamandra in fiamma ardente
    • Questa di verd’erbette
    • Scendi dal paradiso Venere
    • Senza il mio Sole
    • Solo e pensoso i più deserti campi
    • Zefiro torna e ’l bel tempo rimena

Composer Info

Giacomo Gorzanis (c1530-c1575), Josquin Desprez, Adrian Willaert, Giulio Segni da Modena, Antonio de Cabezón, Philippe Verdelot, Francesco Canova da Milano, Francisco Fernández Palero, Francesco da Milano, Juan Vasquez, Luca Marenzio

CD Info

Arcana CD A 450, Arcana CD A 428, Arcana CD A 449