For its debut album on Ricercar, Dulces Exuviae presents chansons by Josquin des Prez, and the subject of this 2019 release is suggested in the title, Adieu mes amours. Most of the selections dwell on loss and regret, two topics that were frequently explored by Josquin and his contemporaries, and which were favored throughout the Renaissance up to the time of John Dowland. Baritone Romain Bockler and lutenist Bor Zuljan reduce Josquin's polyphony to a single melodic line with lute accompaniment, a practice of the Italian courts described by Baldassare Castiglione, which gave the music clarity and immediacy, in contrast to the complexity and distancing of multiple voices. This simplification also permitted a greater appreciation for the quality of the singing, and gave Josquin's chansons a kind of personal directness that brought out their emotional depth, while adding the delicacy of expression provided by the understated lute. An air of spontaneity comes with Bockler's free ornamentation of the vocal part, and in addition to supplying the accompaniment, Zuljan provides brief improvised preludes that give the program a feeling of pensiveness and melancholy. He plays two instruments, both modern copies of 16th century lutes strung with gut strings, so the timbres are appropriate to the time. Ricercar's recording gives Dulces Exuviae presence and warmth, despite being recorded in the resonant space of the 13th century Romanesque chapel of Notre-Dame de Centeilles, Siran, France.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson