Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: ASV Gaudeamus
WORKS: Sacred and Secular Songs
PERFORMER: Musica Fabula/Jan Walters (triple harp)
This is Musica Fabula’s third recorded tribute to a composer who eminently rewards rediscovery. Sances spent over 40 years as Kapellmeister in Vienna, but his heritage is from Rome, his birthplace in 1600, and then Venice where he spent almost 20 years. He reveals a wonderful gift for spontaneous-sounding melody in this selection of love songs (cantade) together with some exultant psalm settings, all for solo voice or duet, with continuo.


The performers, too, convey an uplifting sense of spontaneity, exploiting their wide experience of improvisatory music including jazz. A guitar strums arresting rhythms behind an ‘alleluia’; a deserted lover’s voice almost breaks in grief; a charming flight from the snares of love calls up some spectacular virtuosity. Musica Fabula emphasises its commitment to intuition by ending with a haunting improvisation over a falling ground bass, borrowed from two earlier pieces on the disc. Among three instrumental contrasts, Walters plays a Ricercar with subtly formed rhythms clarifying the lingering sonority of the harp.


For such passion, the price is an occasional rough moment, particularly of intonation, easily dismissed in live performance but obstinately predictable in successive listenings on disc. Recorded sound is a touch hard in loud extremes, though the quieter tone is enchanting. George Pratt