Kapsberger – Libro Secondo d’Arie

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Kapsberger
Libro secondo d’arie

Il Furioso:
Neil Cockburn (harpsichord)
David Dolata (theorbo)
Gian Paolo Fagotto (tenor)
Paul Grindlay (bass)
Julie Harris & Janet Youngdahl (sopranos)
Victor Coelho (theorbo, archlute & director)

Recorded 3-7 June 2004 in the Wyatt Recital Hall, Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta


Reviewed by: William Yeoman

Reviewed: November 2006
CD No: TOCCATA CLASSICS
TOCC 0027
Duration: 54 minutes

Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (1580-1651) was perhaps one of the true originals of the Italian Baroque, and although he is best known today for his eccentric and highly effective lute and chitarrone music (the popular Toccata arpeggiata being but one example), this new disc from the enterprising Toccata Classics label shows him to be equally adventurous when composing for the voice.

Kapsberger’s “Libro secondo d’arie” (1623), recorded here almost in its entirety (only five items having been omitted) and for the first time, contains settings of spiritual texts that largely deal with repentance and loss. Il Furioso’s director Victor Coelho has organised the selection into three sections (‘God and the Sinner’; ‘the lamenting Mary Magdalene’; and ‘Moses and other voices’), interspersed with solos for theorbo by Kaspberger, Bellerofonte Castaldi and assorted anonymous composers. The various styles range from highly melismatic arie in the Monteverdian vein, through more loosely structured, toccata-like duets and stile rappresentivo settings, to more simple, dance-like canzonette.

Overall the performances from the vocalists are excellent, though at one end of the satisfaction scale tenor Gian Paolo Fagotto’s fluent negotiation of Kapsberger’s florid ornamentation is a marvel, while at the other an intrusive vibrato from many of the singers does tend to get in the way of one’s enjoyment a little. All three instrumentalists play with delicacy and grace, Coelho’s theorbo solos in particular showing off his attractive tone and finely-judged rhythmic shading.

Whether or not you subscribe to the Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher’s seeing in Kapsberger a worthy successor to Monteverdi, this is a welcome and enjoyable release that not only has intrinsic value but helps us further to round out our musical picture of early 17th-century Rome.The recorded sound is warm and intimate; however I found the spatial arrangements (harpsichord in the centre and plucked instruments on either side) a little too self-contained and artificial. Coelho’s booklet note is, however, beyond criticism, and texts and translations are included.

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