Piffaro

Canzoni e Danze

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For a disc featuring bagpipes, shawns, recorders, flutes, crumhorns, and sackbutts plus lutes, citterns, guitars, and assorted untamed percussion instruments, it's not as raucous as you might at first imagine. That's not to say that the seven players of Philadelphia's Piffaro early instrument ensemble don't kick up a ruckus on this 1995 disc called Canzoni e Danze -- Wind Music from Renaissance Italy. On tracks like the opening Piza and the later La Parma, Piffaro's attack is mighty and its rhythms are strong. Yet on the string-driven Pass'e mezzo ditto il Romano and the flute- and recorder-dominated Aldì, dolce ben mio show a more dulcet and lovely side of the ensemble. And the closing suite begun with the drum-led march La morte de la ragione shows the group can build a dramatic sequence to a rousing climax as well as the best late Romantic. There's never any question of the player's abilities. Even on the most notoriously recalcitrant Renaissance instruments, Piffaro performs with virtuoso ease and brilliance both individually and as an ensemble. Anyone looking for a rambunctious good time in a Renaissance sort of way who doesn't already know this disc from its first release will surely enjoy it in this 2007 reissue.

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