cantoLX, dir. Frank Agsteribbe, Maurice Clement organ
The ensemble cantoLX follow up the success of their recording of the complete volume I of Girolamo Frescobaldi’s Arie Musicali (1630) with this recording of volume II. The group’s six singers, who appear as soloists and equally effectively as an ensemble, are supported by a reduced continuo team of theorbo and harpsichord – dispensing with the harp, organ, guitar and violone which they called on for volume I. It has to be said that this very much throws the spotlight on to the singers, who however exploit this added exposure with some highly dramatic evocations of their texts, employing beautifully expressive singing and neatly applied ornaments. In among the lovely music by Frescobaldi we have some very brief and rather avant garde improvisations on the organ by Maurice Clement, which seem to have filled out the programme in concert performances and have also made it on to the CD. These seem to involve a forensic exploration of the potential of the 1976 Loncke organ in Sint-Gillis Church in Bruges. To my ear these add nothing to the Frescobaldi, and indeed sound as if they belong on a whole other CD – incidentally not one that I would be buying. The generous 73 minutes of recorded sound suggest that it would have been a better idea just to present the Frescobaldi on its own on a shorter disc. This and the rather arch title and programme notes have lost them a few points in my rating.
D. James Ross