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La Bella Mandorla / Palatino87

Firenze / Palatino87
Release Date: 08/28/2012 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777623   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Donato Da FirenzeFrancesco LandiniDonato da CasciaVincenzo da Rimini,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



LA BELLA MANDORLA: MADRIGALS FROM THE CODEX SQUARCIALUPI Palatino87 CPO 777 623-2 (63:22 Text and Translation)


Selections by LORENZO DA FIRENZE, LANDINI, DONATO DA FIRENZE, VINCENZO DA RIMINI, GIOVANNI DA CASCIA, GHERARDELLO DA FIRENZE, ANDREA DA FIRENZE, BARTOLINO DA PADOVA, JACOPO DA BOLOGNA, NICCOLÒ DA PERUGIA


Little is known of the origins of the Squarcialupi Codex. It was compiled in the early 15th century, and Read more given extensive and costly illuminated decoration, suggesting it was probably intended for a wealthy aristocrat with a conservative connoisseur’s taste (none of these modern ars subtilor -influenced Italian works for him, no sir!), and an archivist’s mentality. Its name derives from the manuscript’s earliest known owner, the Florentine organist, Antonio Squarcialupi, who possessed it in the mid 15th century. The presence of adulatory poems to Squarcialupi in the first folio suggests it was given to him as a gift. Its intent as compiled-to-order, as opposed to a collection casually built over time, is clear because of numerous blank folios marked for music by Paolo da Firenze and Giovanni Mazzuoli: Whoever had to assemble the Codex clearly ran out of time while acquiring the works to please his patron. The latter composer was especially unfortunate from posterity’s perspective, as nothing else can be confidently ascribed to him today, save for several selections on a Florentine palimpsest that are effectively illegible.


And that brings us to the reason why Squarcialupi is so important. If it were only a matter of its beauty and excellent preservation the manuscript would be treasured by collectors, and reproduced in coffee table artbooks. But more than half of the 352 pieces in the Codex are unique to it, and carefully ascribed to specific musicians. This greatly increases the amount of music we possess from the 14th-century Italian States, and Florence in particular. It also means we can build a sense of a specific composer’s structural and stylistic preferences in the standard period forms of the madrigal, ballate, and caccia.


Other discs have made use of Squarcialupi as a musical source. One I recently reviewed: Rosa e Orticha, Music of the Trecento by Ensemble Syntagma (Carpe Diem 16287). But this current release is the first I can recall that is devoted to a wide variety of selections from the Codex, with four instances of variational arrangements by group members, and one arrangement of a Squarcialupi piece by Jacopo da Bologna also included in the Faenza Codex. It is certainly the first album of Squarcialupi content performed by a group named after it. That’s in a very real sense, as the Codex is located in Florence’s historical Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, where it is catalogued as MS. Mediceo Palatino 87.


The two ensembles don’t perform any of the same material, but their approaches to this repertoire make for interesting comparison. Ensemble Syntagma’s CD deploys three singers—two sopranos and a countertenor—along with six instrumentalists. Palatino87 is smaller, with only four members: one singer, one vielle player, and two multi-instrumentalists. (One of the latter pair sings as well.) Their sound is smaller, too, more intimate than Syntagma’s, and it’s greatly assisted by a drier, less cathedral-like acoustic. Syntagma’s vocalists deliver what might be called a straight reading, in which vocal pressure remains constant, and the musical line is everything; Andrea Stefani’s “Con tutta gentilezza” is an excellent example. By contrast, the singing from Palatino87 accents the starts of phrases, and makes more of Trecento angularity, emphasizing the music’s sudden leaps, and skipping rhythms. Words are clearer, as in Donato da Firenze’s “S’i monacordo gentile stormento,” and small expressive touches make the energy released in such pieces as Landini’s “Questa fanciulla Amor fallami pia” especially vivid. Both ensembles have excellent instrumental soloists, but Syntagma’s vocalists are slightly more adept at handling the bursts of melismatic writing that occur throughout much of this music.


The liner notes deal sensibly if very generally with Trecento secular musical genres, but some care needs to be taken when reading the extensive hagiographic comments about the Codex, itself. References are made to the illuminated images alongside each composer’s name as being accurate illustrations, the writer evidently unaware of the period’s non-representational art, and the fact that the images in it were in most instances created several decades after the musicians’ deaths. There are also references to the transcription’s great accuracy, but some scholars, such as Richard Hoppin, have pointed to inaccuracies in transmission when compared to other surviving manuscripts.


Which isn’t to say that Squarcialupi fails to be worth its weight in Medici gold to scholars, archivists, and fanciers of Trecento music. It is; and I can only hope Palatino87 continues to record its contents when this album proves a success. Strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Non so qual i' mi voglia by Donato Da Firenze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
2.
Adiu, adiu dous dame, virelai for 3 (or 2) voices, S. 192 by Francesco Landini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Period: Medieval 
Written: circa 1350-1397 
3.
Adiu, adiu dous dame, virelai for 3 (or 2) voices, S. 192 by Francesco Landini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Period: Medieval 
Written: circa 1350-1397 
Notes: Arranger: M. Lewon. 
4.
S'i', monacordo by Donato da Cascia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
5.
In forma quasi by Vincenzo da Rimini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; Italy 
6.
Sedendo all'ombra by Giovanni da Cascia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
7.
Sedendo all'ombra by Giovanni da Cascia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Notes: Arranger: Meike Herzig. 
8.
I' vo' bene by Gherardello da Firenze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; Florence, Italy 
9.
Dolce speranza d'amoroso foco by Andrea da Firenze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
10.
L'onesta tuo bilta by Francesco Landini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
11.
La bella stella by Giovanni da Cascia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
12.
Questa fanciulla, Amor, ballata for 3 voices (also instrumental version), S. 116 by Francesco Landini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Period: Medieval 
Written: circa 1350-1397 
13.
Questa fanciulla, Amor, ballata for 3 voices (also instrumental version), S. 116 by Francesco Landini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Period: Medieval 
Written: circa 1350-1397 
Notes: Arranger: Jane Achtman. 
14.
A poste messe by Lorenzo da Firenze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Period: Medieval 
15.
I bei sembianti by Bartolino da Padova
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
16.
Da poi che va mia donna by Francesco Landini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
17.
Da poi che va mia donna by Francesco Landini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Notes: Arranger: Meike Herzig. 
18.
Ita se n'er'a star by Lorenzo da Firenze
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
19.
Ay, sconsolato ed amoroso by Vincenzo da Rimini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
20.
Non al su' amante by Anonymous
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
21.
Non al suo amante by Jacopo da Bologna
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; Italy 
22.
La mente mi riprende by Francesco Landini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
23.
La mente mi riprende by Francesco Landini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87
Notes: Arranger: M. Lewon. 
24.
Dio mi guardi by Niccolò da Perugia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Palatino87

Sound Samples

Non so qual i' mi voglia
Adiu, adiu, dous dame
Adiu, adiu, dous dame (arr. M. Lewon)
S'i', monacordo
In forma quasi tra 'l veghiar
Sedendo all'ombra
Sedendo all'ombra (arr. M. Herzig)
I' vo' bene
Dolce speranza d'amoroso foco
L'onesta tuo bilta
La bella stella
Questa fanciulla, Amor
Questa fanciulla, Amor (arr. J. Achtman)
A poste messe
I bei sembianti
Da poi che va mia donna
Da poi che va mia donna (arr. M. Herzig)
Ita se n'er'a star
Ay, sconsolato ed amoroso (arr. M. Lewon)
Non al su' amante [Codex Faenza, 15th Century]
Non al suo amante
La mente mi riprende
La mente mi riprende (arr. M. Lewon)
Dio mi guardi

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