Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
In France, as elsewhere, there was a tension during the Baroque period - and not only then - between, on the one hand, a desire to encourage a distinctive national style and, on the other, to react to, and even to welcome, foreign presences and influences in the form both of performers/composers and ideas. At different times one or other of these impulses held sway, though neither ever quite disappeared. In the period to which this present disc is devoted, there was a considerable openness to foreign models.
Henry IV, king from 1589 to 1610, encouraged a more tolerant and varied cultural life than most of his
predecessors; Cardinal Mazarin (himself Italian born), when minister of France from 1642 used his power and wealth to bring many Italian musicians – including at least three of the composers represented on this disc, Bartolotti, Corbetta and Rossi – to France. Other, sometimes more popular musical, influences included the dances of Spain, which became intermittently very fashionable.
Earlier recordings by Private Musicke, under their director Pierre Pizl, have seen them performing music by Italian composers, such as Frescobaldi and Marini; by Spanish composers such as José Marin and Juan Hidalgo, as well as work by such French luminaries as Marais and Forqueray. They are, in short, well suited to explore the ‘international’ repertoire to be heard in Paris in the first half of the Seventeenth Century. In undertaking such an exploration they are joined by the excellent and experienced tenor Stephan van Dyck.
The programme is very well devised and delightfully various, mixing vocal and instrumental items and varying the instrumentation from track to track in a way that ensures that mind and ear alike are constantly stimulated and enticed.
Some of the composers here are rather obscure figures. Nothing seems to be known, for example, of Luis de Briceno, save that in 1626 a collection of his compositions, containing some sixty pieces, both songs and music for guitar, was published in Paris. Yet the piece played here – Carvanda Ciacona – is a quite splendid confection, nimbly played by three guitars and the colascione (a relation of the long-necked lute). It is the kind of infectious piece which has one tapping one’s foot irresistibly. It is typical of the careful programming of this CD that it should be succeeded by a very different mood, created by the elegantly dignified Symphonie of the far better-known Louis Couperin, played by a trio of violas da gamba.
The guitarist-composer Angelo Michele Bartolotti seems to have been one of the many Italian musicians of the period who travelled Europe from one patron to another. His early compositions were published in Florence; he turned up later at the Swedish court and at Innsbruck; he came to the French court at the invitation (instruction?) of Mazarin, working in both royal chapel and theatre as guitarist and player of the theorbo. The three pieces by him, played by Pierre Pitzl on a 5-course guitar are subtle and intriguing. The Prélude seems to register his awareness of French practices, and a willingness to accommodate himself to them, being in the stile brisé, while his Courant and Canarie are less obviously French in manner. Foscarini’s Folia and Zarabanda detta la favorita are striking pieces, especially Folia, a sophisticated piece which yet goes some way towards explaining why Foscarini was sometimes known as “il Furioso”.
Of the native French composers, Guédron is a figure of some substance, both singer and composer of airs and ballets de cour. Has there yet been a full CD devoted to his airs? If so, I have missed it – and the quality of his three contributions here is clear evidence that his work would reward more extensive exposure. The work of Michel Lambert has perhaps benefited from a wider appreciation – as, for example, in René Jacobs collection of Airs de Cour on Harmonia Mundi HMX 2901061.
In short, this is an enterprising, informative and – most importantly – richly enjoyable anthology (not limited to the Love Songs of its subtitle), well played and sung and recorded in a vivid, but not over bright, sound. All with an interest in the music of the early baroque will surely find it of enduring interest.
-- Glyn Pursglove, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Quoy? faut-il donc qu'Amour by Pierre Guédron
Pierre Pitzl (Viola da gamba),
Stephan Van Dyck (Tenor),
Luciano Contini (Lute),
Pierre Pitzl (Guitar),
Hugh Sandlands (Lute),
Hugh Sandlands (Guitar),
Luciano Contini (Guitar)
Date of Recording: 02/2006
Venue: Episcopal Palace, St. Pölten, Austria
Length: 4 Minutes 26 Secs.
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