Three more Ricercar

To listen to this show, you must first LOG IN. If you have already logged in, but you are still seeing this message, please SUBSCRIBE or UPGRADE your subscriber level today.

Program: #19-19   Air Date: Apr 29, 2019

Musical illustrations for a 16th century treatise on ornamentation, harpsichord works of Scheidt and Scheidemann, and wind and hunting horn music by Telemann.

NOTE: All of the releases on this program  are on the Ricercar label. For more information:

I. Silvestro Ganassi: La Fontegara (Le Concert Brisé/William Dongois). Ricercar CD RIC 395.

La Fontegara
The present recording attempts to provide musical illustrations of elements from Ganassi’s treatise on ornamentation Fontegara, published in Venice in 1535. This work was intended for his wealthy aristocratic pupils, and a priori it does not reflect only his personal practice. This versatile musician’s professional career consisted essentially in directing and playing the bombarde with his ensemble in the service of a number of doges and scuole. He also performed in the ridotti, the circles in which humanists and cultured nobles met. It is this refined art that William Dongois and his musicians propose to revive here, drawing on a very rich repertory of dances, songs and madrigals.
From the Historic Brass Society: William Dongois; cornet, mute cornet, recorder, Timea Nagy; recorder, Tiago Simas Freire; recorder, cornet, mute cornet, François Lazarevitch; recorder, flute, Sarah Walder; viola da gamba, Isabelle Brouzes; viola da gamba, Bor Zuljan;lute, percussion, Hadrien Jourdan; harpsichord, Stefan Legee; trombone, Romain Bockler; baritone.

Silvestro Ganassi (1492–1565) holds a special place in music history as having written the first in a long line of treatises on diminution in his La Fontegara. It was published in Venice in 1535. This wonderful recording is an outgrowth of a scholarly research project, lead by William Dongois, for the Haute Ecole de Musique of Geneva. In Ganassi’s own words, “Diminution is nothing except an ornament for the counterpoint.” The principal aim of the treatise was to facilitate the imitation of the human voice on instruments. Ganassi was among a number of renowned piffari in Venice for the Dodge and a member of Scuola Grande of San Rocco.  His years of service for the Doge coincided with the period that Adrian Willaert was maestro di cappella of the Basilica of St. Mark.

This recording is comprised of a program of composers contemporary with Ganassi. The recording has 18 pieces all of which are highly ornamented using Ganassi’s diminutions drawn from La Fontegara as a basis. Given the unusual rhythmic patterns not only based on values of 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, and 24, but also on 5, 7, 10, 14, 20, and 28, musicologists have considered La Fontegarato be more a theoretical treatise than a practical manual. However, hearing Dongois and the other members of Le Concert Brisé play these divisions it is clear to this listener that it was not only a theoretical work.

They perform five anonymous dance tunes and one by Pierre Attaingnant and employ percussion and a full complement of the ensemble. As with every piece on this recording these dances are highly ornamented using figures from La Fontegara as models for the improvisations. A major aspect of the research project was to explore the use of the Ganassi embellishments in polyphonic compositions. Le Concert Brisé performed a number of Renaissance masterpieces including Mille regrets and Douleur me bat by Josquin, Fortuna desperate by Busnois, Gombert’s Mort et fortune and Dezilde al CaballeroSacro fonte by Willaert, Italia mia by Verdelot, Tromhoncino’s Zephyro spiraPer dolor by Marchetto Cara and Anchor che col partire by Cipriano de Rore.  Not only were the compositional lines embellished with virtuosic Ganassi examples but purely improvised lines were being playing by one or more instruments while the unembellished line was being played at the same time.  William Dongois had a dominant role improvising with breathtaking virtuosic lines on the cornetto. However, the entire ensemble played with flawless precision and imagination. This recording could constitute a graduate level class in Renaissance improvisation all by itself. A spectacular recording.

1. Basse danse la Brosse 
Pierre Attaingnant    5'27 
cornet (wd), flute (fl), mute cornet (tf ), viols, lute, harpsichord 

2. Mille regrets 
Josquin Desprez    2'36 
baritone, recorders (tf, tn), mute cornet (wd), viol 

3. Fortuna desperata 
Antoine Busnois    3'50 
lute, cornet (wd), baritone, recorder (tn), 2 viols 

4. Basse danse after Fortuna desperata after 
Antoine Busnois    1'24 
mute cornet (wd), recorders (tn,tf ), 2 viols, lute, percussions 

5. Douleur me bat 
Josquin Desprez    4'27 
baritone, lute 

6. Mort et fortune 
Nicolas Gombert    3'39 
3 recorders (tf, tn, fl), baritone 

7. Paduana del Re 
Anonymous    3'13 
4 recorders (fl, wd, tn, tf ) 

8. Sacro fonte 
Adriaan Willaert    5'18 
flute (fl), mute cornet (tf ), cornet (wd), baritone, viol 

9. Gagliarda del Re 
Anonymous    4'09 
4 recorders (fl, wd, tn, tf ) 

10. Italia mia 
Philippe Verdelot    5'23 
cornet (wd), harpsichord 

11. Bassa danza Aliot nouvella 
Anonymous    2'38 
cornet (wd), 2 viols, trombone, lute, percussions 

12. Zephyro spira 
Bartholomeo Tromboncino    3'20 
recorder (tn), lute 

13. Il bianco e dolce cigno 
Jacques Arcadelt    3'32 
flute (fl), lute 

14. El Bisson 
Anonymous    2'59 
cornet (wd), recorder (tf ), 2 viols, harpsichord, lute, percussions 

15. Dezilde al Caballero 
Nicolas Gombert    5'29 
flute (tf ) ,baritone, harpsichord 

16. [El Bisson] sua gagliarda after 
Anonymous    2'17 
cornet (wd), flute (fl), 2 viols, harpischord, lute, percussions 

17. Per dolor 
Marchetto Cara    2'37 
flute (fl), lute 

18. Anchor che col partire 
Cipriano de Rore    3'22 
3 recorders (fl, tn, tf ), baritone, lute


II. Cantilena Anglica Fortunae: Selected Harpsichord Works of Heinrich Scheidemann and Samuel Scheidt (Yoann Moulin, harpsichord). Ricercar CD RIC 394.

Cantilena Anglica Fortunae
For his first recording with Ricercar, and as a prelude to an anthology of German Baroque harpsichord music, Yoann Moulin tackles works by two of Sweelinck’s most illustrious disciples. The preludes, chorales, fugues, dances and arias with variations of this repertory offer great diversity and enable us to grasp the personalities of the two composers, the introverted Scheidt and the more flamboyant and Baroque Scheidemann.
From MusicWeb International: The thing that both Heinrich Scheidemann and Samuel Scheidt have in common is that they were both students of the great Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and were therefore early German exponents of the ‘new style’ of keyboard composition, acting as conduits between the great man and those who were to follow, including Dieterich Buxtehude and Johann Sebastian Bach.

Heinrich Scheidemann was born Wöhrden in Schleswig-Holstein, where his father was organist and probably his first music teacher. In Amsterdam he studied with Sweelinck from 1611 to 1614, with his master going as far as to dedicate one of his own Canons to his pupil. Here I must say that this was until now, the extent of my knowledge of the composer, I knew through my reading on the Dutch master that he was one of his pupils, but as to his music, this is my first introduction and I must say that I am impressed. He is held to be one of the most important composers and organists of his generation in northern Germany and became the organist of the Catharinenkirche in Hamburg, a position he would hold until his death from the plague over thirty years later. His music certainly shows Sweelinck’s influence, especially in the quicker pieces, such as the ‘Gagliarda in D’ and the ‘Praeambulum in D’ which also shows a degree of originality in the way the opening section undulates and gradually develops into the piece’s main theme. This originality shines forth in other works such as the ‘Fuga in D minor’, with its slow stately pace drawing out the fugal structure of the piece, something which really shines in his ‘Pavana Lachrymae’.

Of the two composers, Samuel Scheidt is probably the better known. Born in Halle, by the age of seventeen he was the organist at the Moritzkirche, where he stayed until he left to study with Sweelinck in Amsterdam from 1607 to 1608, after which he returned to his home town where he was to spend most of his life; he was later to edit the German edition of Sweelinck’s works in the city. You soon appreciate who is the finer composer of the two, with Scheidt coming out on top; it is not a coincidence that the piece that gives this disc its title is by Scheidt. You cannot compare the first two tracks as Scheidemann’s slow and stately ‘G minor Praeambulum’, with its plucked strings sounding somewhat like a lute at times, cannot compete with the exuberance of Scheidt’s allemande ‘Also geht’s, also steht’s’. A much better comparison would be his ‘In dich hab ich gehoffett’, with its slower pace and lighter feel, but here there is no feel of it being played on a lute, this is clearly a keyboard work and the greater creativity shines through. The following ‘Courante’ is lovely, its mix of stateliness and gaiety being just right. The title piece, ‘Cantilena Anglica Fortunae’, with its wonderful set of variations on the English lute song ‘Fortune my Foe’, the best known version of which is by John Dowland, deserves its place on the cover of this disc, it shows a composer happy to work with a simple tune and weave around it complex and imaginative variants.

Whilst the musicianship of Samuel Scheidt shines forth here, Heinrich Scheidemann has an important role on this disc and in the history and development of German music especially for the keyboard; without both of these composers the face of German music might have been totally different. We know that Sweelinck was an influence, especially on J S Bach, and it was through the likes of Scheidt and Scheidemann, who learned at the great man’s knee, that this influence was first felt. This is touched upon in the excellent booklet essay by Jérôme Lejeune as he clearly identifies their position in the history of music, whilst also discussing their music and each of the pieces performed here. The booklet also includes a short postscript by Yoann Moulin in which he discusses the idea behind the recording of these works. Yoann Moulin plays a modern copy of a Rückers instrument from 1615, towards the end of Sweelinck’s life and contemporary to the composition of these pieces. His playing is excellent throughout, his use of the instrument to get the best from this music is exemplary. From the pieces that display the lute-like character of the instrument to those which show it as an instrument for the keyboard virtuoso, his touch is perfect, as he colours each of the pieces well. This is an interesting and historically important issue as well as a very enjoyable and welcome addition to my collection.--Stuart Sillitoe

1 Praeambulum in G minor (WV41) [3:49]
2 Also geht’s, also steht’s [7:02]
Pavana Lachrymae in D minor [7:08]
4 Gagliarda in D [3:52]
5 Praeludium in D minor, WV36 [2:26]
6 In dich hab ich gehoffett, SSWV208 [5:11]
7 Courante [2:09]
Cantilena Anglica Fortunae [5:44]
9 Fuga in D minor [2:16]
10 Praeambulum in D, WV 34 [3:05]
11 O Gott, wir danken deiner güt [1:43]
12 Praeambulum in E minor, WV 37[1:32]
13 Fantasia super lo son ferito lasso [9:36]

III. Telemann: Per Tromba & Corno da Caccia (Eolus/Jean-François Madeuf).  Ricercar CD RIC 397.

Per la tromba & il corno da caccia
The old instruments of the Stadtpfeiffer were replaced by French-styled oboes and bassoons in German courts and cities at the beginning of the 18th century. These became the bandes de hautbois to which trumpets were added, the combination becoming the basis of the military band. After the marches and the parades, however, these musicians were also invited to take part in the court's formal entertainments. It was for these circumstances that Georg Philipp Telemann and his contemporaries created a completely new type of repertoire that was linked to the French and Italian genres of the Suite and the Concerto. Hunting horns were also added to the ensemble at certain moments. This is the repertoire that Eolus tackles here, with total respect for the characteristic techniques of horn and trumpet harmonics. 
From MusicWeb International: For their debut recording, Ensemble Eolus – named after the god of the winds – explore some of the byways of the vast and varied output of Telemann and his geographically immediate contemporaries, setting out to execute it only on authentic instruments and in historically informed practices. They have sought to trace the “regimental and military origins” of chamber music for woodwind as well as brass in the Baroque period, and so use a sole bassoon to carry the bass line in the selected pieces, except in two cases.

Their achievement here demonstrates how far such period practice ensembles have come in realising the compositions of a long-distant era with not only formidable accuracy, but also in a manner that is musically appealing rather than raw or unconcerned with the overall aesthetic effect. If the programme seems arcane on paper, the anonymous Suite in E-flat, from a manuscript held by the University of Rostock, includes a dignified Handelian ‘Ouverture’ and a Siciliano, overlaid with a glistening trumpet solo, which are in a similar style to the equivalent movements of the Music for the Royal Fireworks, intimating that Handel’s famous work did not emerge from a cultural vacuum, albeit that the forces used were significantly more numerous in that celebrated instance.

That Suite is a good example of the collegiate sense of interplay that obtains among the performers, as they interact vivaciously for the Aria, and the oboes and trumpet play off each other in its joyful Bourrée. In slower or more solemn movements on this disc, the instruments are nicely integrated, as in the reflective Adagio of the Concerto in F major attributed to Telemann, or the stately opening of his Concerto in D major. The high writing for the trumpet in that work puts Jean-François Madeuf in the spotlight, but he rises to the challenge superbly. Pitted against him, Elsa Franck and Johanne Maître on the oboes are crisp, creating a tone that is contiguous with that of the trumpet but yet also offers a subtly shaded contrast. By comparison they are more wailing and piquant in the Suite in F major which, like some of Telemann’s fully orchestral suites, comprises some descriptive movements. The horns are mellow in that work’s opening, but forceful in the later sections. However, they sound somewhat woolly in the Concerto a 3 by Maximilian Fiedler.

Throughout the disc Jérémie Papasergio performs the bassoon part with a gently rasping quality that draws attention to the fact that its role in this music is often more than simply to provide the underlying accompaniment, but bears real interest in itself, as well as constituting a foil to the timbres of the other instruments. The disc concludes with a lively Aire de Trompette – like the previous Concerto by Telemann, calling upon Elisabeth Geiger’s discreet contribution on the harpsichord – and a March that requires a third oboe and an improvised drum part to simulate the effect of a military parade.

If the music does not break new ground, this recording nevertheless offers an attractive slant upon one of the uses to which the art of music was put in the Baroque era, when composers rarely wrote abstract music for no particular purpose.

Curtis Rogers

Georg Philip TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Per Tromba & Corno da Caccia
Suite in F major for two horns, two oboes and bassoon, TWV:F16 [11:11]
Menuet for two horns, TWV40:110 [1:12]
Georg Philip TELEMANN (attributed)
Concerto in F major for two oboes and bassoon [7:05]
Suite in E-flat major for trumpet, two oboes and bassoon [14:21]
Maximilian FIEDLER (fl.1750)
Concerto a 3 in E-flat major for two horns and bassoon [5:46]
Georg Philip TELEMANN
Concerto in D major for trumpet, two oboes and basso continuo, TWV43:D7 [14:56]
Air de trompette in C major, TWV41:C1 [0:59]
March in F major for two horns, three oboes, bassoon and drum, TWV50:F43 [2:15]

Composer Info

Silvestro Ganassi (1492–1565), Josquin Desprez, Antoine Busnois, Nicolas Gombert, Adriaan Willaert, Philippe Verdelot, Bartholomeo Tromboncino, Jacques Arcadelt , Marchetto Cara , Cipriano de Rore, Heinrich Scheidemann , Samuel Scheidt , Georg Philipp Telemann(1681-1767), Maximilian FIEDLER (fl.1750),   

CD Info

CD RIC 395, CD RIC 394, CD RIC 397.