Philippe Verdelot / Sylvestro Ganassi: Madrigali diminuiti

Doulce Mémoire, Denis Raisin Dadre
Ricercar RIC371

In my apprenticeship as a recorder player, I invested in a copy of Ganassi’s manual on ornamentation, Fontegara, and still remember my astonishment at the diversity and freedom of decorations he suggested including trills on a third and fourth, scalic divisions of startling variety and sheer flights of fancy. I felt then and feel now that early musicians have chosen very selectively from this and other manuals to create an ornamentation orthodoxy, which simply didn’t exist in the 16th century. Fascinating then to have this CD presenting vocal accounts by Clara Coutouly of madrigals by Verdelot followed by diminutions after Ganassi, played on the recorder by Denis Raisin Dadre. Sympathetically accompanied by lute, harp and spinet/clavicytherium Coutouly gives markedly straight-laced but beautiful accounts of Verdelot’s imaginative music, contrasting effectively with Dadre’s technical fireworks. In a couple of the madrigals both soloists perform simultaneously, Coutouly singing ‘straight’ and Dadre ornamenting the same line, an approach which sounds as if it may result in chaos but which works surprisingly well. I was disappointed to hear no exotic trills at any point, suggesting a slightly conservative approach even today by the present performers – I can remember as a student raising a few eyebrows at concerts with unorthodox recorder trills ‘alla Ganassi’, and I made sure to have a page reference at hand for any critics. Notwithstanding this, the present performances are highly engaging and sound very natural and believable.

D. James Ross