»A la Ferrarese«. Bassadanze, balli e canzoni
Italianische Instrumentalmusik der Frührenaissance · Italian Instrumental Music of the 15th century
Alta Capella & Citharredi der Schola Cantorum Basiliensis

Deutsche Harmonia mundi (BMG) GD 77 243

(recorded: 1984)

1. Las je ne puis   [1:41]
Jean LEGRANTrondeau · Porto 714, f. 69v/70

2. Cançon de'pifari dicto el Ferrarese   [2:30]
Antonio CORNAZANO (?) — bassadanza · Vatikan, Capp. 203, f. 33v/34

3. Je loe amours   [2:35]
Gilles BINCHOISballade · Oxford, Can. misc. 213, f. 88

4. La figlia Guiliemino   [2:15]
Domenico de PIACENZAballo · Escorial, IV. a. 24, f. 60v-62r

5. Merce ti chiamo   [4:46]
anonymus — ballata · Escorial, IV. a. 24, f. 82v-85r

6. Navaré je suy   [1:36]
Guillaume DuFAYrondeau · Cod. Reina. f. 98

7. Il re di Spagna   [1:24]
Antonio CORNAZANO (?) — bassadanza · Vatikan, Capp. 203, f. 33v

8. Petit vriens   [1:16]
anonymus — ballo · Paris, Ital. 476, f. 65v

9. El Ferrarese   [1:14]
Antonio CORNAZANOballo · Vatikan, Capp. 203, f. 33v/34

10. Amoroso   [2:17]
Domenico de PIACENZA (?) — ballo francese · Paris, Ital. 476, f. 65v

11. Leoncello   [2:36]
Domenico de PIACENZAballo · Paris, Ital. 476, f. 63v

12. Petit vriens    [1:57]
anonymus — ballo · Paris, Ital. 476, f. 65v

13. [5:31]
La Franchoise nouvelle
anonymus — ballo · Brussel 9085, f. 22v
La danza Ravestain
anonymus — ballo · Brussel 9085, f. 14v
La danza Cleves
anonymus — ballo · Brussel 9085, f. 22r/23

14. Il est Venus   [0:57]
anonymus — rondeau · Cod. Reina, f. 118v/119

15. Qui veut mesdire   [2:38]
Gilles BINCHOISrondeau · Cod. Reina. f. 101v/102

16. La dolce vista   [2:37]
Guillaume DuFAYballata (?) · Vatikan, Urb. lat. 1411, f. 11v/12

17. Il re di Spagna   [2:52]
Antonio CORNAZANO (?) — bassadanza · Vatikan, Capp. 203, f. 33v

18. Mon seul plaisier   [1:44]
Bedyngham de ANGLIArondeau · Porto 714, f. 59v/60

19. Porray je avoir   [1:38]
Guillaume DuFAYrondeau · Cod. Reina, f. 97v

20. Las je ne puis   [2:39]
Jean LEGRANTrondeau · Porto 714, f. 69v/70

21. Collinetto   [2:04]
Antonio CORNAZANO (?) — bassadanza · Vatikan, Capp. 203, f. 34

22. Collinetto   [2:13]
Antonio CORNAZANO (?) — bassadanza · Vatikan, Capp. 203, f. 34

23. Je suy defait   [1:02]
Nicolaus GRENONrondeau · Porto 714, f. 69v/70

24. La plus belle   [1:23]
Nicolaus GRENONvirelai · Porto 714, f. 69v/70


Randall Cook, Katharina Arkfen:
Schalmei, Pommer von Bernhard Schermer, Stafa/Switzerland 1979, 1982
Pommern von Gunter Ktirber, Berlin 1980,1982
Lorenz Welker, Zugtrompete
nach einem Bild von Hans Memling (ca. 1435—1494) von Rainer Egger, Basel 1983

Crawford Young, Randall Cook: Laute, Cetera, Viella
5chórige Laute von Joel van Lennep, Boston 1980
Cetera von D. R. Miller, Gloucester, Mass., 1980
Viella nach Bildern des späten 15. Jh. von Richard Earle, Basel 1984
Debra Gomez, Harfe
nach einem Bild von Hans Memling (ca 1435—1494) by Lynn Lewandowsky, New York 1980
Karlheinz Schickhaus, Hackbrett
Chromatisches Hackbrett von Alfred Pichlmaier, Fraunberg 1972
Diatonisches Hackbrett, anonym Ende des 16. Jh
aus den Sammlungen des Deutschen Museums, München

℗ © 1991 harmonia mundi,
Recording producer: Meinrad Schweizer, SCB
Recorded: 18.12. - 22.12.1984
Reformierte Kirche Sornetan/Switzerland
Editing of the manuscripts: Lorenz Welker, SCB; Klaus L Neumann, WDR
Translations: Julia Cremer, Geneviève Bégou
Front Cover: Bible of Borso d'Este from Ferrara Biblioteca Estense, Modena
Text editing: Albert Gr. Lehr
All rights reserved

Eine Coproduktion mit  Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln

The present recording represents a collection of fifteenth-century north italian courtly instrumental music. Because of the inclusion of pieces of specifically Ferrarese origin, as well as the use of instruments or instrumental ensembles known to have been prominent in Ferrara, a particular historical context may be envisioned: the court of Borso d'Este (1450-1471).

The predominance of French compositions in Italian manuscripts of the period attests to, among other things, the strong attraction of the wealthy humanist courts for artists from the North. The documentation of the Este rulers as music patrons provides envidence that Borso's musical establishment, in contrast to that of his successor Ercole, was primarily one of instrumentalists, among whom the most famous (and well-paid) were an Italian, the lutenist Pietrobono del Chitarino, and the German wind-player or “piffaro” Corrado de Alemania. Pietrobono, active at the Este court from 1441-1497 and widely acclaimed as the foremost lutenist of his day, helped to establish the lute as a prominent fifteenth-century instrument capable of solo music. Musically he seems to have occupied a position between two distinct traditions, the written polyphonic art of the Franco-Flemish (Dufay through Josquin) on the one hand, and a local, humanist art of unwritten (i. e., formulaic or improvisatory) narrative singing and instrumental elaboration on the other. The figure of Corrado (active at court 1441-1481) provides an interesting contrast to that of Pietrobono, for if Pietrobono was chief representativ of “soft” music for plucked strings, then Corrado was responsible for the “loud” music, mainly through his Alta Capella wind ensemble.

If the Este court had the best Alta Capella in Italy, it also had the best dance masters. Borso engaged Domenico da Piacenza (=Domenico da Ferrara) from 1456-70, and the two main pupils of Domenico's, Antonio Cornazano and Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro, both were patronized by Ercole. Domenico's name is associated with Italian ballo tunes like “Leoncello” and French ones such as “Amoroso” and “La Figlia Guilielmino”. A copy of Cornazano's dance treatise of 1455 exists containing only three bassadanza “tenori”, including the famous “La Spagna” tenor which was still used for counter point exercises in the seventeenth-century.

In contrast to the instrumental performance of “canzoni” (chansons) used for entertainment or ceremonial occasion, the performance of fifteenth-century dance music required impromtu part-realization. The players of the cantus and contratenor voices used standard melodic cliches or formular appropriate to the movement of the tenor below. Whether this is referred to as “improvisation” or “memorized composition” is of little importance; the point is that each musician gave his own personal rendering of the piece.

The performace of the bassadanza involves inherently different musical problems than the performance of the ballo. The former is unequivocally a polyphonic form (2-4v) most often preserved in the guise of a monophonic, arythmic notational system. Fewer choices are available to the modern bassadanza performer than to the ballo player, that is to say, more is known about the bassadanza performance style in terms of its vocabulary. The performace technique of the bassadanza is the realization of the rhythm by means of a playful, sometimes metrically ambiguous cantus voice against the two steady lower voices. The ballo seems to have been more dependent not on polyphonic or even monophonic elaboration, bur rather on the element of percussion to complete the simple melody. The most logical instrument for ballo performance may have been pipe-and-tabor, in the absence of which, for this recording, percussive drones have been used.

Crawford Young