LABELS: Carpe Diem
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: La Barca D’amore
WORKS: Works by Palestrina, Fontana, Lassus, Attaignant, Willaert,
PERFORMER: William Dongois (cornett); Le Concert Brisé
CATALOGUE NO: 16254
William Dongois is one of the foremost performers on the cornett – an old wooden or ivory wind instrument with a cup-shaped mouthpiece (like modern brass), but fingerholes (like modern woodwind). In effect this CD is a cornett recital with the music adapted from various sources, c1530-c1660, including vocal music, violin music and a host of examples taken from treatises on how to improvise ‘passaggi’ upon vocal models.
The very best kind of musicianship can be heard in the performance of dalla Casa’s ornamented arrangement of Willaert’s chanson Jouissance vous donneray: the cornett playing is nicely variegated with echo effects, it is sympathically responsive to the accompaniment on the catgut-strung harpsichord, and through all the torrent of notes the shape of the original chanson isn’t lost. These are not really spontaneous improvisations as such since they stay very close to the written embellishments in the treatises. Occasionally (as in Ferrari’s vocally conceived Ciaconna) the rather colourless tone of the cornett and the lack of text makes the whizzing about seem somewhat anonymous and pointless. But in the instrumentally conceived works such as Fontana’s Sonata Quarta, or the Gorzanis arrangement of the gaillarde La barca d’amore, there is a real lightness and freedom of display, if not invention. Anthony Pryer