Italian Medieval Instrumental Dances - vol. II
The project to record all surviving Italian medieval instrumental dances continues with this second volume, almost entirely dedicated to the fascinating legacy contained in a famous codex preserved in the British Library, and catalogued as Additional 29987. Scholars are unanimous in placing the origins of this codex in central Italy, specifically between Umbria and southern Tuscany, despite the presence of compositions by authors working in Florence. This complete recording has offered us the opportunity to present certain particularly significant Estampite, such as La Belicha, Tre Fontane, Principio di Virtù, Parlamento, and In Pro. The starting point of our interpretation was a careful listening to the complex melodies of these pieces, as well as a faithful reading of the music as it appears notated in the codex. These melodies seem to reinforce the impression already mentioned in Volume I, i.e., that these compositions belong to the genre Estampita, but have achieved a level of maturity such that they have little in common structurally with the dance after which they were named. Within melodies that seem at first to be uniform and repetitive, one can distinguish melodic cells, some of which are complete unto themselves while others appear to have been conceived in the form of a dialogue, perhaps for more than one instrument. The choice of instrumentation for these pieces, therefore, has favored the “horizontal” dimension: we have identified certain cardinal points and entrusted the results to diverse instruments, or to a dialogue between a soloist and a “tutti” ensemble. This has allowed us to highlight a melodic discourse which would otherwise be obscured, and bring out its cantabile qualities. Moreover, such a practice was in fact quite common in the traditional repertoires of the areas encircling the Mediterranean.