Canzoni Per Sonare

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COMPOSERS: Antegnati,Bartolini,Chilese,Frescobaldi,Gabrieli,Grillo,Guami,Lappi,Luzzachi,Massaino,Merulo & Maschera
WORKS: Songs by Antegnati, Bartolini, Chilese, Frescobaldi, Gabrieli, Grillo, Guami, Lappi, Luzzachi, Massaino, Merulo & Maschera
PERFORMER: His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts; The Purcell Quartet; Chordophony


These entertaining pieces come from a collection of instrumental works published in Venice in 1608. Most of the composers are local to Venice (such as Giovanni Gabrieli) while others come from Ferrara, Brescia and Lodi.

By this date the instrumental canzona, originally based on the late medieval chanson, had a long history. These late examples have many changes of time signature, passages of complex imitation and decorated melodies.

Only in rare cases does the published score indicate the instruments to be used, and this has given these experienced performers an opportunity to construct a varied sonic landscape.

Guami’s eight-voiced canzona (track 2), for example, is treated to a glittering combination of stringed and wind instruments, all perfectly balanced. The decision to present the only genuinely ‘double-choir’ piece (Lappi’s La Negrona) on four lutes was less happy, since the uniform sonority slightly obscures the antiphonal effects.


Occasionally (Luzzachi, Canzon Decima) the speeds are a little unstable, though the fast performances add to the impression of brilliance. Anthony Pryer