Mazzone: Il Primo Libro delle Canzoni a Quattro Voci

Ensemble le Vaghe Ninfe, Natalie Bonello, Maria Antonietta Cancellaro
Brilliant Classics 95416

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his CD is the result of a very thorough concert engagement with the music of Mazzone, and the performers provide impassioned accounts of the four-part Canzoni in a variety of vocal and instrumental guises. These range from four unaccompanied voices, which employ a little more vibrato than would be ideal, and voices with a variety of instruments including a (perhaps slightly anachronistic?) serpent, to entirely instrumental performances featuring renaissance flutes and organ. These latter interpretations are helpfully preceded by spoken accounts of the missing texts, and tastefully embellished. Marc’ Antonio Mazzone’s name was known to me, but this account of his four-voice Canzoni gives a clear picture of where he stands in the world of late-Renaissance Italian music. There are a couple of issues with the recording, such as the rather artificial-sounding overall acoustic and the rather startling, amplified sound of the reader’s voice. I have reviewed so many studio recorded accounts of concert performances involving readers where this same balance problem arises that I can only conclude that readers need to be present and be recorded in the same acoustic and in the same way as the music.

D. James Ross

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