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Girolamo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643)
Affetti Amorosi: Aria Musicale, Firenze 1630
Le Banquet Céleste/Damien Guillon
rec. 2017, Eglise de Forville, France
GLOSSA GCD923702 [69.12]

Although this collection of twenty-five pieces employs various styles from the older polyphony of Frescobaldi’s teachers to the ‘seconda pratica’ of Caccini and Monteverdi they were all published in a single collection as the composer approached his fiftieth year and seem to represent a resumé of his career as vocal composer, thus far. In fact the booklet notes (rather waffly but mostly helpful) by Pierre Elié Mamou says that they “span fifteen years from the death of Vincenzo I Gonzago of Mantua to the decline of the city’s musical life once plunged headlong into war”.

I have to say immediately that there is much fine and very expressive singing here not least from Damien Guillon one of the finest counter-tenors I have heard for some time. There is the addition of a fine four part vocal ensemble and a continuo band consisting of cello, lute, harpsichord and harp.

To give some idea of the contrasts of style and expression one could take Ardo e Taccio il mio mal in which we have Guillon with continuo only, is at his most impassioned in an aria in a recitativic style “I burn and am silent about my woes”. This even begins with something like a keyboard toccata and, after all Frescobaldi was more famous in his day as an organist. Immediately following that is Con Dolcezzo e pietate for men’s voices, which is a bit of a throwback, as is the wonderful Oh Dolore, to Monteverdi’s earlier madrigal collections with their suspensions and dissonances. On the other hand, the exciting Non mi negate ohime for counter-tenor and continuo is a reminder of Monteverdi’s collection Scherzi Musicale – vocal concerti in a virtuoso language which came out in 1607 with a further set in 1632. This could apply also to the delicious Giote oh selve in which the lover has returned, to the joy of the woods and fields.

Several texts will remind you of those typical of madrigal collections set by previous generations. Surely that of Non vi partite could have been set even by Gesualdo “Do not depart /if you love me /do not leave me /welcome eyes /” On other occasions Frescobaldi’s harmonies seem almost to have popped out of Gesualdo as in the expressive Ohimé che fur, which features a powerful rendition by soprano Céline Scheen.

Perhaps it’s not that easy to distinguish Frescobaldi’s vocal style from that of his contemporaries whereas as a keyboard composer he was innovatory and original but these pieces are non-the worse for that. Even so five instrumental pieces divide up the songs played on the harpsichord, very short chips from the workshop, some in a short and sectionalised character. There is also a longer example, Ancidetemi pur played on the harp by Marie-Domitille Murez. Both are tuned to mean tone.

The booklet essay comments gayly on the contrasts in these works and proof of that can be heard in Cosi mi disprezzate, in which the even verses are in the ‘stile recitando’ style and the odd numbered ones in a bouncing triple time.

The booklet, which is firmly attached to its cardboard casing, has all texts well translated, the aforementioned essay and various black and white photos of the recording sessions. The recording, in a remote northern French eighteenth century church, is perfectly balanced and especially pleasing. The performances grew on me and do definitely offer a good grounding in an understanding of Frescobaldi and for that matter in the rise of the early baroque.

Gary Higginson
Oscure selve [2.25]
Corilla danzando sul prato [0.59]
Eri gia tutta mia [3.36]
Balletto e ciaconna [1.10]
Se l’aura spira [1.15]
Dunque dovro [3.08];
Troppo otto due stele [3.46]
Oh dolore [3.52]
Toccata per spinetta [2.18]
Vanne o carta amorosa [3.16]
Ardo e taccio il mio mal [4.22]
Non mi nehgate ohimè [2.06]
Dove ne vai pensiero [1.31]
Voi partite mio sole [2.16]
Non vi partite [2.03]
Doloroso mio core [2.47]
Gagliarda terza [1.40]
Giote oh selve [3.14]
Cosi mi desprezzate [3.09]
Passacagli [2.16]
Óhime che fur [2.41]
Maddalena alla croce [2.45]
Ancidetemi pur [6.52]
Ti lascio anima mia [4.14]



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