The booklet notes for this album are quite complex, and their English translation has various problems. One is that the "flutes" referred to throughout are commonly called recorders in English. The music, however, is capable of standing on its own. The program brings together two related repertoires that are often performed separately (when they are performed at all): the French chanson of the sixteenth century, and the instrumental versions of them, somewhere in a fascinating space between arrangement and new music, that issued from the presses of French music publishers. Most of the instrumental pieces are played by groups of recorders, perhaps with a harp (played by vocalist Arianna Savall herself) or other stringed instruments. The songs involved are very famous; they're the ones that anyone who has taken a Renaissance music survey course will have encountered (such as Claudin de Sermisy's "Tant que vivray"). Most of them are heard in several different versions, one sung by Savall with instrumental accompaniment, then followed by the instrumental versions. As each tune is split apart and put back together anew, the program gives the listener a gentle way into the understanding of just why it was that these particular tunes spread all over Europe. (There is, it must be said, plenty to learn from the booklet as well, for the persistent.) Savall is developing a voice as gorgeous as that of her mother, Montserrat Figueras, and the instrumental work of the ensemble Il Desiderio is impressive in its cleanness and clarity. This is a disc with numerous applications for education or simply for quiet Renaissance listening.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
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