Program: #19-48 Air Date: Nov 18, 2019
Secular music of Josquin, penitential music in the Chiesa Nuova in Rome (1610), and motets by Natale Monferrato.
I. Josquin: Adieu mes amours (Dulces Exuviae). Ricercar CD RIC 403.
From Gramophone: Singing self-accompanied on the lute was considered a mark of the true Renaissance gentleman, but the two functions could be shared out between two performers. By its nature, polyphony privileges the interaction between voices; but nonetheless much Renaissance music (especially secular) relies on a principal melody. That is plainly the case with Mille regretz, one of the standout hits of the time; no doubt a fair proportion of the pieces on this recital would have been performed this way. Romain Bockler’s brooding voice sustains the entire recital. His willingness to ornament so consistently is to be applauded, though it’s not always as spontaneous as one might wish. Bor Zuljan is a sympathetic accompanist, seldom needing to draw attention to himself. Renaissance aficionados will note his use in some tracks of a ‘bray lute’, which has been fitted in such a way that the strings are further excited after they have been plucked, making the buzzing sound usually associated with bray harps.
I would recommend this disc unreservedly, not least for the window it opens on to the variety of performance contexts for written polyphony in the Renaissance (and Bockler’s willingness to ornament). Two observations, however: first, the slow speed typical of lute intabulations rubs off on the recital as a whole, which is to say that the odd change of pace wouldn’t have gone amiss. Second, one has to point out that Josquin’s authorship of several of these pieces is seriously disputed. (I’ve already mentioned the most famous case, that of Mille regretz.) Most bizarre of all, there is not a shred of evidence linking the beautiful Quant de vous seul (without a doubt one of the recital’s high points) to anyone but Ockeghem. In the run-up to the 500th anniversary of Josquin’s death, one hopes that performers and producers will (as they say) do the homework.
II. Teatro Spirituale: Penitential Music in the Chiesa Nuova in Rome (c.1610) (Inalto Ensemble/Lambert Colson). Ricercar CD RIC 399.
This recording transports us to Rome’s Chiesa Nuova, the Oratory Church where in 1600 the premiere took place of the first spiritual opera, La Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo by Cavalieri. That pioneering spirit has inspired this programme devised by InAlto. Among the manuscripts in the church’s library is an anonymous source, probably dating from the very beginning of the 17th century, containing a complete cycle of settings of those seven psalms that ever since the time of Saint Augustine have been called the ‘Penitenial Psalms’. This Roman score is absolutely unique of its kind, being monodic, and composed in the early operatic melodic narrative style of recitar cantando. InAlto presents here a completely original approach, one that puts this early 17th century repertoire in its context by recreating, in the tradition of the Oratorian spiritual exercises, an imaginary ritual that might unfold in the days preceding Holy Week, one in which each of the penitential psalms takes on its full meaning; while the extraordinary musical dissonances encoded in this manuscript are guaranteed to shock the listener…
About Inalto: This Italian expression applies the same adjective to sea and mountain; it evokes at the same time their physical remoteness and the risks involved when exploring them.
The cornetto is definitely one of the most important musical instruments of the 16th and 17th century. It is made of wood and covered with leather or parchment and was considered the instrument most capable of imitating the human voice. And, just like the voice, it likes to explore the higher regions. Mersenne’s encyclopedia describes the cornetto as a “ray of light going through the clouds”.
InAlto aims to explore both vocal and instrumental music, bringing them to a sort of dialogue.
Nowadays, a real danger exists of failing to convince with music that does not feel like ours anymore. By a thorough study of the available sources and by selecting the best “historically informed” partners and collaborators, InAlto seeks to bring out the best in the repertoire they play. Eventually, historical musical intruments are musical instruments as well, InAlto considers them as modern tools of expression.
Anonymus: De Profundis clamavi; Domine ne in furore tuo (Psalm 37); Domine exaudi orationem meam; Domine ne in furore tuo (Psalm 6)
+Quagliati: Satiati huomo carnale; Recercata 19 a 4
+Anerio: Ritorn'al tuo pastor smarrit'agnella; Signor, io t'ho confitto
+Langa: Come ti veggio
+Macque: Cappriccio sopra Re, Fa, Mi, Sol
+Cifra: Emendemus in mediu
+Animuccia: S'albor che piu sperai
+Frescobaldi: Toccata quarta per l'organo da sonarsi alla levatione; Canzon quinta a 4
III. Natale Monferrato: Salve Regina (Ensemble Céladon/Paulin Bündgen). Ricercar CD RIC 405.
Of those composers who held the highest positions at St Mark’s basilica in Venice, Natale Monferrato (1610-85) is manifestly one of the most thoroughly forgotten nowadays. After working with the leading musicians of this prestigious institution, he succeeded Francesco Cavalli as maestro di cappella in 1676. His output, consisting exclusively of sacred music, includes some twenty collections published between 1647 and 1681. Although he wrote a great deal of polyphonic music, he also produced three collections of Motetti a voce sola. Most unusually, these three books accord an important place to compositions for the often neglected alto voice. They are so voluminous that only the Libro Terzo of 1666 was used for this recording. The motets are divided into varied and contrasted sections that range from the spirit of recitative to that of the aria, using very diverse forms in a manner that is bound to remind us of the models of opera as it developed in Venice from 1637 onwards. This world premiere recording blazes the trail for discovery of an undeservedly neglected composer.
Josquin, Cavalieri, Quagliati, Anerio, Langa, Macque,Cifra, Animuccia, Frescobaldi,Natale Monferrato (1610-85)
CD RIC 403, CD RIC 399, CD RIC 405