If you’re following this blog on a regular basic you know I’m not a specialist of Early Music (to simplify, most anything before Bach), and don’t listen to it very often.
Therefore, there is not a lot of coverage of the 16th century on this blog, and I want to put out a disclaimer that my review below is even more subjective than my regular ones, I’d certainly say my judgment is more educated in the 18th and 19th century than here.
But this brand new album has particularly touched me, so I still wanted to write about it. It’s been some weeks since my last review, because most of the recent new releases didn’t particularly motivate to write about them. This is the first one that does.
Paolo Pandolfo is one of the leading soloists of the Early Music movement, but also plays a lot of baroque. His recording of the Bach cello suites is really quite beautiful and worth checking out. He plays both the cello, but also the Viola da Gamba, a string instrument that nearly disappeared around the 18th century.
Regina bastarda – Paolo Pandolfo – La Pedrina (Glossa 2019)
So what’s the “bastard queen” in the title all about? Well “alla bastarda” was basically an improvised version of popular songs and madrigals played on a solo instrument like the Viola da Gamba.
And that really is what we get here, a lot of solo improvisations of a true master of the Viola da Gamba of several composers of the 16th century.
To lighten the mix, the solo improvisations (which are not truly solo, there is a “continuo” of other instruments supporting Pandolfo (played by the excellent La Pedrina), are mixed with Madrigals from the same period, mostly by Palestrina.
Overall, this results in a mesmerizing mix of fascinating music, that will draw you in and require all your attention. This is not background music, but requires your full dedication. You won’t regret it!
My rating: 5 stars