LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
WORKS: Affetti musicali
PERFORMER: Il Viaggio Musicale
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0660
This is among several recent discs which not only provide enjoyable new listening but, as important, reveal hitherto forgotten stages in the emergence of early 17th-century ‘new music’. Marini’s 27 pieces reflect a crucial stage in the growth of independent instrumental music. The title refers to word-setting to fire the emotions, but here transferred from singers to instrumentalists. Phrasing often reflects imagined text; decorative ‘diminution’ imitates singers showing off their virtuosity; slurs derive from vocal melismas – several notes expressing a single syllable. In the spirit of ‘affetti’, ‘allegro’ and ‘grave’ are as much indications of cheerfulness and solemnity as of tempo.
The 11 players of Il Viaggio Musicale explicitly opt ‘for the greatest possible variety of instrumental combinations’. Some are exotic – soprano dulcian driven onward by strummed guitar, an ‘aria’ with violins, theorbo, harp and virginals painting every phrase a new colour. If imagination may have run riot (seven different timbres for dances specified for two violins and bass), the vocally inspired expressiveness is striking. You can sense the passions of absent words as a violin virtually sings, while cornett vies with it in some outstanding playing.
Despite some uneven perspective, recorded sound is intimate and clean. A most welcome release. George Pratt