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A Songbook For Isabella / Thorby, Musica Antiqua Of London


Release Date: 07/29/2003 
Label:  Signum U.k.   Catalog #: 39   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  AnonymousAntoine BusnoisJohannes OckeghemFirminus Caron,   ... 
Performer:  Philip Thorby
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

On this Signum release we are entertained by late fifteenth century music from the personal songbook of Isabella d’Este, the daughter of the Duke of Ferrara and wife of the Duke of Mantua. Isabella’s songbook has survived in the Bibliothèque National in Paris and contains mainly accompanied songs both sacred and secular plus some instrumental works. These are composed in the Burgundian tradition by leading Flemish composers of the day including Josquin, Isaac and Ockeghem, who were plying their trade in Isabella’s Italy.

Isabella had learned to sing and proficiently play the viol, lute and harpsichord, all instruments deemed appropriate for a young Lady of aristocratic status. In 1499 the Duchess succumbed to the new
Read more fashion and developed the use of the consort of viols in the court of Ferrara. The consort of viols can sound most impressive too, as heard in Isaac’s La mi a 4 (01:12 track 16) and Absque verbis a 3 (01:02 track 24). The songbook contains a marvellously rich cross-section of vocal and instrumental music which utilises the voice and various combinations of four viols, four recorders, three crumhorns, lutes and guitar. It should be noted that several dances or lute solos, works not from the songbook, have been added to the disc from contemporary sources.

Using instruments that were specially commissioned sets of period copies the players of Musica Antiqua display their charming musicianship consistently throughout. Director Philip Thorby presents a most persuasive argument for the merits of this largely unfamiliar repertoire and captures the essential Mediterranean spirit of the works with finely paced, well balanced and refined interpretations. Clare Wilkinson, the mezzo-soprano soloist, provides a real sense of engagement in these difficult works and seems especially at home in the slower paced songs (01:45, track 4 and 00:06, track 15). However the mezzo-soprano does not always convince me technically, sounding somewhat variable in intonation and occasionally rather uncomfortable in her ornamentations (00:14, track 1). I find the sound quality acceptable and have heard clearer recordings from the Signum engineers.

Signum records are to be congratulated for yet another release of late-renaissance music which certainly help to fill gaps in the catalogue of this rare repertoire. Clearly not every one will be able to take seventy five minutes of late-fifteenth century music at one sitting however pleasurable and abundant discoveries await the more adventurous listener.

Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Or su corere by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
2. Fortuna disperata by Antoine Busnois
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
3. Facia ognon in fin che po by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
4. Prenez sur moi vostre exemple by Johannes Ockeghem
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Flanders, Belgium 
5. Helas que pourra devenir by Firminus Caron
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
6. Or che son di pregion by Bartolomeo Tromboncino
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
7. A la pesca by Iannes Plice
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
8. Peschatore gagliarda by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
9. A la cazza by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
10. Kyrie eleison by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
Period: Medieval 
11. Columba senza fielle by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
12. Pavana regia by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
13. El piove à 3 by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
14. Si dedero by Alexander Agricola
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century 
15. Ave maris stella by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
Period: Medieval 
16. La mi la sol by Heinrich Isaac
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
17. La mi la sol la mi gia vol by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
18. O triumphale diamante by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
19. Tente alora by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
20. Verbum caro by Traditional
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
Written: medieval 
21. Ne la digna stalla by Traditional
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
22. Recerchar di Benedictus by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
23. Benedictus by Heinrich Isaac
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
Period: Renaissance 
24. Absque verbis à 3 by Heinrich Isaac
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
25. Gratis acceptistis à 4 by Heinrich Isaac
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
26. La morra by Heinrich Isaac
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1507; Italy 
27. In te Domine speravi, per trovar pietà by Josquin Des Préz
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
28. Saltarello, 'Zorzi' by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
Written: 16th Cent 
29. Salterello 'Giorgio' by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London
30. Forte cosa è la speranza à 5 by Anonymous
Performer:  Philip Thorby (Director)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Antiqua of London

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