WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Girolamo Frescobaldi: Fantasie; Recercari & Canzoni Francese; Fiori Musicali

Frescobaldi / Aymes
Release Date: 09/13/2011 
Label:  Ligia   Catalog #: 101221   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Girolamo Frescobaldi
Performer:  Jean-Marc Aymes
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 24 Mins. 

This title is currently unavailable.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

FRESCOBALDI Primo libro delle fantasie à Quattro. Ricercari e canzoni francese. Fiori musicali Jean-Marc Aymes (hpd, org, dir); Mara Galassi (hp); Gianluca Ferrarini (ten); Concerto Soave (period instruments) LIGIA 0101221-10 (3 CDs: 208:00)

This is the fifth and final volume in the Ligia series of the complete keyboard music of Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583–1643). Previous volumes reviewed in Fanfare include the Read more style="font-style:italic">Primo libro di capricci and Secondo libro di toccate (both 34:2), and the Primo libro di toccate (34:6). The present volume includes published collections from the beginning, middle, and end of Frescobaldi’s career. The Primo libro delle fantasie was published while the composer was still in Milan; it served as a kind of audition piece that eventually won him the position of organist at St. Peter’s in Rome. The Ricercari e canzoni were written at the same time as the Primo libro di toccate —at the end of Frescobaldi’s first sojourn in Rome, when his compositional powers were at their zenith. The Fiori musicali , a collection of liturgical organ music, is a product of Frescobaldi’s mature period, after he had returned to Rome from his lengthy sabbatical in Florence. The Fiori musicali can be said to have had the greatest impact on later generations: Both Johann Fux and J. S. Bach possessed copies and studied the Fiori assiduously for their contrapuntal secrets.

The free-form, improvisational component of Frescobaldi’s music—roughly speaking, the prevalent style in the toccatas and capriccios—is perhaps most familiar, but the contrapuntal element is surprisingly strong as well, as witnessed in the three collections recorded here. Remarkably, all three were published in partitura , or full score (rather than in keyboard tablature), thus preserving the independence of the part-writing. The excellent essay in the booklet, Counterpoint and Rhetoric , clarified for me how important this aspect of Frescobaldi’s music really is, and how strong its influence was on later composers as diverse as Sweelinck, the French clavecinistes and Sebastian Bach. At a time when monody and Italian opera were all the rage, Frescobaldi singlehandedly preserved the prima prattica inherited from his teacher Luzzaschi, refined it, and passed it on to later generations.

In contrast to the toccatas, where Frescobaldi was very specific in the keyboard instruments to be used, the three collections recorded here are less specific in their instrumentarium, allowing the performers a certain flexibility of choice. Jean-Marc Aymes has accordingly allotted some of the fantasias and ricercars to a mixed ensemble of violin, viola, and two gambas—quite effective. Another surprise is the use of harp; its delicate, refined voice is a refreshing change of timbre, and causes me to wonder why harp isn’t used more often in this repertoire. Aymes plays the remainder of the pieces either on the historical organ in the church of St. Maria del Carmine in Brescia, or on an unidentified single-manual Italian harpsichord.

In Fanfare 34:6, I reviewed the history-making 12-CD set of the complete keyboard music of Frescobaldi on the Tactus label. That set consists largely of reissues, some dating to the mid ’80s. I would have to say that the scales are now tipped ever so slightly in favor of Aymes’s version, for the refined playing, varied instrumentation, and sparkling recorded sound. In the Tactus version of the Fiori musicali , Sergio Vartolo engages a choir to sing the Ordinary of the Mass; Aymes has a tenor intone the opening Kyrie and Christe only—not that it’s going to sway my decision. Highly recommended.

FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen
Read less

Works on This Recording

Il primo libro delle fantasie, a 4 by Girolamo Frescobaldi
Performer:  Jean-Marc Aymes (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1608 
Length: 56 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Ricercari, et canzoni franzese...libro primo by Girolamo Frescobaldi
Performer:  Jean-Marc Aymes (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1615; Rome, Italy 
Length: 10 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Fiori musicali di diverse compositioni by Girolamo Frescobaldi
Performer:  Jean-Marc Aymes (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1635; Italy 
Length: 75 Minutes 38 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title