Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:
BBC Music Magazine (08/2019)
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Appréciation d'ensemble / Overall evaluation :

Reviewer: Kate Bolton-Porciatti

‘The senses reign, and reason now is dead’: Petrarch’s words are the starting point for this musical odyssey that sees the rationality of the Renaissance give way to the sensual, often explosive expressivity of the Baroque. Conceived by Il Giardino Armonico’s recorder-playing director Giovanni Antonini, the entirely instrumental sequence meanders through sundry dances, battle pieces, laments, arrangements of popular chansons, as well as canons and virtuoso sonatas.


Among the better-known works are Josquin’s plangent Déploration on the death of Ockeghem, here dressed in mournful instrumental colours (mute cornett, dulcian, trombone), and Hayne van Ghizeghem’s chart-topping song De tous bien pleine, in turn the inspiration for reworkings by Josquin and Agricola, which Il Giardino despatch with a jazzy swing. There are rich textural contrasts throughout the programme, from the haunting sound of a solo recorder (Van Eyck’s Fantasia and Echo), via the plucked strings of harp and harpsichord in a striking arrangement of a Gesualdo madrigal, to a quasi-orchestral realisation of a Castello Sonata.

Antonini (Italy’s answer to the Pied Piper) coaxes alluring sounds from his battery of instruments (recorders, flute, dulcian, chalumeau), and the 13 members of his ensemble follow with equal virtuosity, brandishing their instruments with particular bravura in the battle pieces (T13 & T27). Alpha’s recording is detailed without being oppressive, and the handsome hardback booklet offers thought-provoking quotations from primary sources and a gallery of artworks reflecting the recording’s themes, from the erotic delights of Hieronymous Bosch to the edgy drama of Caravaggio.


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