Either because it was too virtuosic or too expensive a hobby, keyboard music was rarely printed for the most part of the 16th century. In an attempt to provide for amateurs, however, printers did start to publish ‘intabulations’, or arrangements, of popular vocal music; it is these collections that rank among the earliest known repertoire for keyboard.
Four significant composer-performers who had such music published form the focus of this release: father and son Cavazzoni, and uncle and nephew Gabrieli. Even with Marco Antonio Cavazzoni’s early 1523 collection, there is already a maturity of development in contrast to equivalent arrangements for lute, and this idea of progress continues right through the century. Documenting ricercares, chansons, hymns and even Andrea Gabrieli’s pioneering of the toccata, the compilation reveals to the listener the gradual cultivation of a more relaxed style, where simple transcriptions give way to extended passagework and freer arrangements.
Girolamo Frescobaldi may ultimately dominate the narrative history of Italian Renaissance keyboard music, but, as this release shows, there were a great many other musicians before his time who excelled in the genre and who set precedents for its development. Bursting with invention, this compilation represents a fascinating addition to Newton Classics’ instrumental library.
Recorded on the two organs of the Basilica dei Frari, Venice: historic and well-preserved instruments in a historic church, one of the three great churches in the city to be built in the Gothic style, and studded with works of art by Bellini, Titian and Donatello.
Sergio de Pieri holds the Chair of Principal Teacher of Organ and Organ Composition at the Benedetto Marcello Conservatoire in Venice.