Jean-Marc Aymes

Frescobaldi: Il Secondo Libro di Toccate; Canzoni alla Francese

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Keyboardist Jean-Marc Aymes offers fresh recordings of Girolamo Frescobaldi's music that help enliven the virtues of this masterly but difficult composer. Instead of playing through Frescobaldi's publications in sequence, he uses multiple instruments -- here a period harpsichord and organ -- and rearranges the works into new groupings, much as a keyboardist of Frescobaldi's time might have done. Whether such a keyboardist would have switched off between harpsichord and organ is debatable, but Aymes' readings are lively; together with his enthusiastic booklet notes (in French and English, unlike an earlier French-only release in the series), they clarify the innovations and stylistic issues in Frescobaldi's music. The two CDs in this release are each devoted to a single publication. The first, a 1627 book titled The Second Book of Toccatas, Canzonas, Versets, Hymns, Magnificats, Gagliardas, Courantes, and Other Scores for Harpsichord and Organ, sets off daring quasi-improvisatory toccatas against brief (30- to 45-second) dances that marked a new emancipation of keyboard music from vocal models. The second disc features music that has never been definitively attributed to Frescobaldi, but Aymes' notes and playing argue in favor of such an attribution. After a variety of contrapuntal and dance pieces, Aymes groups together a number of pieces entitled "Canzoni alla francese" (French canzonas). Apparently written late in Frescobaldi's life (he may have left the set unfinished), these are strict contrapuntal essays in the old canzona form of the Renaissance, but in each of them the counterpoint is interrupted by a little explosion of toccata-like, improvisatory music. It's a stunning, tight effect, and Aymes prepares the listener to appreciate it. Highly recommended for fans of Baroque keyboard music, this disc bodes well for further releases in Aymes' Frescobaldi series.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Il Secondo Libro di Toccate
1 3:22
2 3:19
3 3:37
4 2:41
5 3:06
6 3:39
7 0:53
8 0:40
9 0:44
10 4:14
11 0:38
12 0:38
13 4:06
14 3:58
15 0:39
16 0:39
17 1:06
18 5:06
19 2:00
20 4:46
21 2:21
22 3:23
23 3:24
24 3:45

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Il Secondo Libro di Toccate
1 6:54
2 1:51
3 0:31
4 0:50
5 0:58
6 2:52
7 0:44
8 2:38
9 1:54
10 7:02
11 2:41
12 1:49
13 2:50
14 2:31
15 2:36
16 4:47
Canzoni alla Francese
17 2:44
18 2:39
19 3:04
20 4:27
21 2:30
22 2:54
23 2:13
24 3:36
25 2:44
26 2:25
27 3:23
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