Valente: Intavolatura de cimbalo

Dark green flowers

Ensemble L’Amorosa Caccia, Fabio Antonio Falcone
Brilliant Classics 95326
+Crequillon, de Monte & Willaert

[dropcap]V[/dropcap]alente’s 1576 Intavolatura made use of a unique number-tablature which doesn’t specify all note durations, or how the parts relate polyphonically, features which it shares with lute tablatures. This recording, like earlier ones by Rebecca Maurer and Francesco Cera, makes use of the edition published in 1973 by Charles Jacobs. What distinguishes it is the use of an ensemble of two singers and four instrumentalists to perform some of Valente’s pieces, rather than playing all twenty-one on the keyboard. The ensemble also performs three chansons on which pieces by Valente are based: Willaert’s Qui la dira, Crecquillon’s Pis ne me peut venir and Monte’s Sortez mes pleurs. These demonstrate the range of his influences and this recording brings out, more than previous ones, the variety of styles in the publication. There are dances in which a recorder takes the top line, adding some idiomatic ornamentation, as well as ground-bass variations, contrapuntal fantasias and ricercars, and arrangements of vocal pieces with diminutions. Using the ensemble in this way helps us appreciate that Valente’s keyboard tablature is just a way of presenting this music for publication, and that it can work just as well with other forces. Particularly informative in this regard are the two arrangements of Sortez mes pleurs, both by Valente. The first is lightly ornamented in the top voice but otherwise sticks closely to the polyphony (labelled ‘con alcuni fioretti’); in this recording, the top voice of the chanson is sung over this first keyboard arrangement, making the relationship very clear and embedding the melody in the mind before the second, much more ornamented version (labelled ‘disminuita’) is played. Falcone plays on a harpsichord after Trasuntino and a virginal after Domenico da Pesaro, both constructed by Robert Livi; these, or similar instruments by the same maker, were also used by Francesco Cera in his 2004 Tactus recording (TC 532201). Falcone is persuasive in his interpretations, adding some convincing inequality to groups of short notes. Occasionally he could have followed the recorder player in treating the ornamental figuration a bit more freely – I would suggest that it is not always necessary to take this tablature quite so literally. Recording quality is excellent throughout. The Neapolitan Valente’s is an interesting voice and this recording certainly helps to promote his importance.

Noel O’Regan

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