William Corkine The Second Booke of Ayres (1612)

CANTAR ALLA VIOLA, the art of accompanying the voice with the viola da gamba, is the largely-forgotten technique of using a bowed instrument to play polyphony and harmony as an accompaniment to the voice. The rediscovery of these methods inspired Nadine Balbeisi, soprano, and Fernando Marín, viola da gamba, to create their duo of the same name. Detailed descriptions of the practice of this delicate manner of accompanying the voice are found in sources such as “Regola Rubertina” by Sylvestro Ganassi (1542) and in “Il libro del cortegliano” by Baldassare Castiglione, Venezia (1528). As suggested by Ganassi’s instructions, Fernando Marín adapts madrigals and songs from the Renaissance and early Baroque for the voice and viol.

The duo researches and makes use of the different kinds of violas da gamba used to accompany the voice, such as the Spanish Vihuela de arco, the bowed version of the Vihuela de mano (plucked), and the English Lyra-viol. Both have been reproduced following the shapes and dimensions as well as building techniques of original instruments. Historical bows and strings are just as carefully researched and selected. The harmonies of the instruments are sustained by using a special bowing technique which creates a sound that mixes well with the human voice.



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Unusual yet stimulating repertoire from the English Renaissance performed with style and persuasion!

We know all too little about William Corkine: that he was an English composer and musician - player of the lute, viol and lyra-viol - who flourished in the second decade of the seventeenth century in Britain before travelling to Poland in 1617. This is the only CD devoted entirely to Corkine's intense, melodious, concentrated and highly expressive music.
This music is truly lovely, focused and - perhaps most noticeably - reflects many moods. From the melancholy, so characteristic of the early Jacobean, through the pithy and pointed to the optimistic. But this is emphatically not a collection of historical curios. Nadine Balbeisi and Fernando Marín obviously have a great deal invested in the music, its emotional impact, the purposeful tension between text and music, at which we can safely say Corkine was expert. They present the rounded and mature resultant blend to us with neither fuss nor apology.
The attention paid to the construction and tuning of the instrument - a modern copy, described well in the accompanying booklet - is clearly as responsible for the happy embrace of voice with strings as are the technical expertise and interpretative skills of the duo. Equally interesting, and equally successful, is the approach which Balbeisi and Marín take to pronunciation. It's apparently a pronunciation consistent with scholars' best efforts at approximation to Early Modern English with its greater degree of what to us is 'earthiness'. And of greater variety … pronunciation of the same word may legitimately vary from song to song.
This CD has little of the sense of a standalone recital, nor an arbitrary collection, still less a thematic mixture. Rather, it's a faithful and hence highly enjoyable, offering laying as bare the music as Corkine – who, on this evidence, deserves to be better known - lays bare his mind and heart in music of true originality and depth.
Mark Sealey, Musicweb-international.com

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