Frottole: Popular Songs of Renaissance Italy

Ring Around Quartet & Consort
60:06
Naxos 8.573320
Music by Capirola, Cara, Dalza, Festa, da Fogliano, Patavino, Pesenti, Tromboncino, Willaert, Zesso & anon

These performers take a free but ultimately convincing approach to the secular music of Renaissance Italy, singing with relatively ‘naïve’ vocal production and feeling free to introduce glissandi and other vocal effects. The instrumental playing has an attractive élan to it, nicely offsetting the sometimes rather opaque sound of the voices. Notwithstanding the sterling efforts of the performers there is an undoubted sameness to much of this material, and this is undoubtedly a collection to dip in and out of rather than to consume in its entirety as I have to as a reviewer. By the end I felt as if I had eaten an entire bag of dolly mixtures at one sitting!

I did particularly enjoy Atsufumi Ujiie’s winsome way with a recorder and Marcello Serafini’s idiomatic and imaginative guitar contribution. Many Naxos releases of this sort are recorded accounts of live performances, and very often you can’t help feeling that many of them would work better with the theatrical presence of the performers, an element lost in the recorded account. Naxos’s modus operandi often leads performers to record with them in order to have high-quality CDs to sell at performances, and the present CD may well fall into this category, but is nonetheless enjoyable as an independent recording.

D. James Ross