COMPOSERS: Cara,Dammonis,etc,Francesco Da Milano,Spinacino,Tromboncino
LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Vergine Bella
PERFORMER: Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Clare Wilkinson (contralto), Julian Podger (tenor), Robert Meunier (lute)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0683
In the early years of the 16th century a series of musical publications by Petrucci preserved in notation a sophisticated tradition of partly-improvised songs (frottole) and religious devotional pieces (laude). The main frottole composers represented were Marchetto Cara and Bartolomeo Tromboncino, both of whom worked at the court of Mantua, and the laude pieces came from Venice and elsewhere. In this adventurous recording of a selection of the repertoire almost half of the pieces are recorded for the first time. Additionally, Robert Meunier and Guy Ross provide moments of contrast with a delightful, hand-picked string of gems for the lute.
The singers certainly know how to bring out the contrasting styles of these pieces – Carolyn Sampson is lively and light-voiced against the delicate halo of sound from the lute in Cara’s ‘Fugga pur chi vol’; Julian Podger beautifully colours each word in Tromboncino’s ‘Vergina bella’ (much better than the 1998 recording by Robin Blaze on Metronome); and the slightly blank, pure sound of Clare Wilkinson fits with the sorrowful emptiness of ‘Che debo far?’. The vocal ensemble pieces are good too, though the churchy acoustic rather swallows up the intricacy of the part-writing in ‘Virtù, che fai’. Anthony Pryer