Diego Ortiz: Caleidoscopio. Comet Musicke

Ortiz cover copy

Diego Ortiz: Caleidoscopio

Comet Musicke

Son an ero 18 (2021)

If you are a member of this Society, or at least of that portion of the Society that touches on Renaissance music, you surely know the name of Diego Ortiz (c1510–c1570), particularly for the music of his Trattado de glosas of 1553, an ornamentography manual that in­cludes a number of sample improvisations, some on a tune, some over a bass, and so forth, that have been staples in the solo repertory of early wind and string players for years. A num­ber of these appear on this two-CD set, and they are as good as always. A lot less well known is his Musices liber primus of 1565, a conventional book of Latin sacred music. Eight motets from that book are here, and they are a most wel­come addition to the recorded body of Span­ish Renaissance music. And there are a number of thematically related works not by Ortiz included too. 

Comet Musicke is a band of eleven, most of whom both sing and play instruments—viols, vihuelas, flutes, cornett, serpent, and percussion—giving them an enviable flexibility of instrumentation, which they deploy imaginatively and tastily. Of greatest interest to us here in our niche are Cyrille Métevier on cornett and Patrick Wibart on serpent, and they are both terrific. Wibart’s serpent playing is particularly seductive, and one only wishes that the instru­ment had been invented in Ortiz’s lifetime. (Yet don’t get me wrong: his performances are very lovable indeed, and Métevier’s too.) 

            In short, it’s interesting music, with some impressive cornett and serpent playing: maybe we should call it historic-brass-adjacent? But pretty enjoyable.

                                                                                                            Kenneth Kreitner

                                                                                                            University of Memphis