Agricola, Ambrogio, Dalza, Isaac, Josquin, Spinacino, etc

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Agricola,Ambrogio,Dalza,etc,Isaac,Josquin,Spinacino
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Amours Amours Amours
WORKS: Lute duos
PERFORMER: Karl-Ernst Schröder, Crawford Young (lute)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 905253
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the most popular form of instrumental music in the 15th century consisted of duets for lutes. Unfortunately, though, little of the original duet repertoire has survived. But these two performers have drawn ingeniously upon their experience among the original sources to produce this colourful kaleidoscope of dances, love songs, laments and other musical trinkets. Along the way they have also provided the first complete recording of the six lute duets in the very first printed lute book – Spinacino’s Intabulatura de lauto of 1507.

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This, then, is an enterprising and entertaining initiative, even though the performances are a little mixed. Some of the chanson arrangements, such as Busnois’s ‘Fortuna desperata’, are rendered with a suave melody in the foreground and with great supporting sensitivity in the accompanying instrument. But when the pair plays Spinacino’s arrangement of Josquin’s ‘Fortuna desperata’the lines are reduced to a meaningless series of runs with every note given the same weight. On the other hand, in Agricola’s ‘De tous bien’, the notes of the tenor part are seamlessly handed back and forth between the two instruments. Such brilliant displays of technique, though, cannot turn an enjoyable experience into a moving one. Anthony Pryer