La Luchesina by His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts

His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, La Luchesina: Vocal and Instrumental Music of Gioseffo Guami (1542–1611), sFz Music (0115), ASIN: B00YCTUDKM, 2015.

Jamie Savan, director; Nicholas Mulroy, tenor; Eamonn Dougan, baritone; Jamie Savan: treble cornett by John McCann, alto cornett by CyberZink, mute cornett by Serge Delmas, tenor cornett by Christopher Monk; Jeremy West: treble cornett by Matthew Jennejohn; Helen Roberts: treble cornett by Paolo Faniciullacci, tenor cornett by Christoph Shuler; Gawain Glenton, treble cornett by Matthew Jennejohn, alto cornett by Serge Delmas; Adam Woolf, alto and tenor sackbuts by Ewald Meinl; Abigail Newman, alto and tenor sackbuts by Ewald Meinl; Stephen Saunders, bass sackbut by Ewald Meinl; Miguel Tantos Sevillano, tenor sackbut by Egger Instruments; Keith McGowan, dulcian by Graham Lyndon Jones; Jan Waterfield: organ by Henk Klop Orgelbouw, supplied and tuned by Keith McGowan. 

Tuning: a=466Hz, ¼ comma mean-tone temperament. Recorded in St. Brandon’s Church, Brancepeth, 26-28 February, 2014.

The magnificent music of Gioseffo Guami is presented on this latest recording by His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, which features the vocal arts of tenor, Nicholas Mulroy and baritone, Eaamonn Dougan. Jamie Savan has assumed the role of director now and offers excellent liner notes describing the importance of Guami’s music. HBS listeners will hear many similarities to the music of Gabrieli in Guami, and for good reason: Gabrieli knew him in Bavaria and was one of many musicians who enthusiastically recommended Guami for the position of first organist at St. Mark’s in Venice. The present recording is a combination of instrumental and vocal/instrumental works. The word “inspired” comes to mind. This listener finds himself just taking one deep, relaxed breath of air after the next while hearing the recording.

First of all, there is an overall sound which is true for each track: refined, burnished, warm, heartfelt. This is true for slow passages as well as the technical passage. There simply is no “rough edge” anywhere.

The group makes ample use of alto and tenor cornets. They can be heard especially in the Canzon vigesimaquinta and La Guamina. Regarding brilliantly played passagi, interest must be directed to La Battaglia. Generally, pieces with this title are rapid-fire displays of technical virtuosity, often with more accentuated articulation. Not so on this recording. HMSC offers an almost subdued affect which actually makes the technical passages all the more outstanding, but in a truly refined way.

Their performance of La Grave (Jeremy West playing the top part) is exemplary: the height of delicate, thoughtful phrasing—entirely befitting this absolute musical gem. Jamie Savan’s mute cornett playing on La Todeschina is exquisite in its phrasing and shading of dynamics and articulation. Attention should be paid in In die resurrectione to how beautifully the cornetti, especially Jeremy west on the top line, blend with the voices, smoothly weaving in and out, always supporting yet deferring to the voices.

I highly recommend this CD to our HBS members. His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts continue to offer recordings of the highest artistic level. This is a truly noble recording. It is an inspiration.

James Miller