This double album from the Accent label collects two single recordings, one made in Ghent in 1994, the other in Corsica and Frankfurt in 2003 and 2005. The second shares only a few musicians with the first but is essentially made of the same stuff, so you might wonder what exactly is added. The pieces on the second CD are generally longer, more serious, and more intricate. But the more important answer is that the repertory involved is almost unknown, and any contribution to its recorded coverage is welcome. The pieces here, many of them by anonymous composers, poets, or even both, are convincingly presented in the notes by recorder player and director Roberto Festa as essentially anti-madrigals: they were compiled by publishers as brash, humorous, Southern Italian counterparts to the increasingly literary and experimental madrigals issuing from Northern courts. As such, they're a great deal of fun, with many of the earlier pieces trafficking in delightfully bawdy sexual imagery vastly different from the subtle conceits of the madrigal. Like their Northern counterparts, these villanesche, which went by various names, underwent development as established composers tried out the form; a piece like Lasso's Sto core mio se fosse di diamante (CD 2, track 16) has the harmonic subtlety of a mid-level madrigal. In general, though, this is high-spirited, simple, direct music, given a small but important dose of period percussion by Festa. Recommended for good Renaissance collections.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2