I dilettosi fiori / Corina Marti
Musik des Trecento für Clavisimbalum und Flöten


Ramée 1108

1. Era Venus [2:20]
Pit, f. 54v-55r

2. Aquila altera [3:42]
Fa, f. 73r-74v
after JACOPO DA BOLOGNA. Aquila altera / Creatura gentil / Uccel di Dio

3. Indescort [3:40]
Fa, f. 36r-36v
after En discort

4. Per non far lietto [4:35]
Sq, f. 29v

5. [untitled piece] [3:50]
Fa, f. 93r-94r


6. Ghaetta [6:14]
L, f. 55v-56r

7. Non na elso amante [2:14]
Fa, f. 78r-79r
after JACOPO da BOLOGNA. Non al suo amante


8. Saltarello [5:01]
L, f. 62r

9. La dolçe sere [2:58]
Fa, 71r-72r
after BARTOLINO da PADOVA. La douce cere

10. [Un fior gentil] [3:03]
Fa, f. 82r-82v
after ANTONIO ZACHARA da TERAMO. Un fior gentil


11. Chominciamento di gioia [6:49]
L, 56r-56v


12. [Rosetta] [4:25]
Fa, f. 50v-52r
after ANTONIO ZACHARA da TERAMO. Rosetta che non canbi may colore

13. [Ave maris stella] [2:12]
Fa, f. 96v-97r
after Gregorian hymn

14. [untitled piece] [2:26]
Fa, f. 49v


15. Quant je suis mis au retour [1:40]
Machaut A, f. 485v

16. In perial sedendo [5:13]
Fa, f. 74v-774
after BARTOLINO da PADOVA. Imperiale sedendo

17. Puis que ma dolour [2:41]
Machaut A, f. 483v-484r

18. Che pena questa [4:57]
Fa, f. 79v-80v
after FRANCESCO LANDINI. Che pena é quest' al cor


19. Saltarello [1:26]
L, f. 62v-63r


clavisimbalum Andreas Hermert
recorders Monika Musch, Ernst Meyer
double recorder Monika Musch

Faenza, Biblioteca Comunale, MS 117 [Fa]: tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12-14, 16, 18
London, British Library, MS Add. 29987 [L]: tracks 6, 8, 11, 19
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, fonds italien 568 [Pit]]: track 1
Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana, Palatino 87 [Sq] : track 4
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, fonds français 1584 [Machaut A] : track 15, 17

Nothing is known of the composers of the instrumental pieces.
The composers of the vocal originals are:
Guillaume de Machaut: * Reims or Machault, Champagne, c. 1300; † Reims, April 1377
Jacopo da Bologna: fl. northern Italy, 1340-?1386
Gherardello da Firenze: * c. 1320-25; † Florence, 1362 or 1363
Francesco Landini: * ?Fiesole or Florence, c. 1325; † Florence, 2 September 1397
Bartolino da Padova: fl. Padua and ?Florence, c. 1365-1405
Antonio Zachara da Teramo: * c. 1350-60; † after 1413
Don Paolo da Firenze: * Florence, c. 1355; † Florence, after 20 September 1436

Recorded in April, 2010 at the church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption, Basse-Bodeux, Belgium,
and in March, 2011 at the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche, Binningen, Switzerland
Artistic direction, recording & mastering: Rainer Arndt
Editing: Ricardo Rapoport, Rainer Arndt
Production: Outhere
Graphic concept: Laurence Drevard
Design & layout: Laurence Drevard (cover), Catherine Meeùs (booklet)
Cover: Pomander, partially gilded silver, niello, Italy c. 1350
(by courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London)
Photos: © V&A Images (cover), © Michal Gondko (p. 6)
RAM 1108


It was as in a dream: around Christmas time, 1420, some young noblemen and women gather for a party that would last for many days, at the court of Pierbaldo, lord of Buongoverno. They feast and indulge themselves, contrive games to pass the time happily, hunt, dance, sing and play. Alongside the sweet and savoury delicacies, musical instruments are produced in an unending abundance to provide the most beautiful music. The party proved so magnificent and sumptuous to such a stunning degree, that one enchanted participant finally cried out: "Più bel suon di quel mai non veduto" – I have never seen a more beautiful sound than this. And it was a dream: the supposed chronicler of the feast was a poet, Simone Prudenzani d'Orvieto (c. 1355 – shortly after 1440). The scene is created entirely in his imagination, and he presents it in the form of a vast series of sonnets entitled Il Saporetto (literally "the sauce"). He has a certain Buonare, a fictitious old friend of Pierbaldo, describe in a complex, dream-like construction the "world of pleasure" (mundus placitus), as his son – the young courtisan Solazzo (literally "buffoon" or "jester") – experienced it at Pierbaldo's court. But was it really only a dream? Prudenzani's poem is certainly no historic record, and is characterised by an hyperbolic mode of expression: the dishes described are as numerous as the musical instruments, and the titles of the pieces mentioned agree with those transmitted in compositions found in manuscripts dating from the beginning of the 15th century. Prudenzani's cribbing of titles even follows the alphabetical listings in those sources. Nevertheless, his robust description, rich in detail, reflects contemporary courtly musical practice, and is inspired by a foundation based in reality. So, the revels of Solazzo and his friends are not simply a dream...

The way that instruments are used is certainly a particularly interesting component of Prudenzani's luxuriant presentation. Although his enumeration is virtually an inventory – he lists all sorts of ancient instruments, including bowed and plucked string instruments (arpa, liuto, chitarra, cetera, rubebe, vivola), wind instruments (pifero, fiauto), keyboard instruments (organi, menacordo), and those producers of sounds that are today often looked down upon as "folk instruments" (sampognia, pigniatta) – it becomes clear that the compositions mentioned were not only played, but also sung. The poet informs us, for example in sonnets 28 and 29, that one evening, after Vigils, certain sacred pieces were played first on the organs ("orgheni"), but then some "jolly sounds" (de'- suoni ylarii) rang out. He goes on to list a series of titles that have survived in manuscripts as vocal compositions – such as the madrigal Alba columba by Bartolino da Padova, the anonymous Du'ançoliti, or the virelai La harpe de melodie by Jacob Senleches. Equivalent purely instrumental realisations of vocal music are equally attested to by some other, rare sources – above all by the celebrated Codex Faenza, named after the town where it is now kept (Biblioteca Comunale, Ms. 117). This vast parchment manuscript was created at almost the same moment as Prudenzani's poem, somewhere between 1410 and 1420 in northern Italy. Apart from some musicological texts added only a few decades later, it contains some fifty pieces of music notated in a particular manner now interpreted to be a keyboard tablature. It is a notation on two systems, to be read at once, where the pieces – identified only by their incipit (the song texts are absent) – are written down in two parts. The lower part generally corresponds exactly to the tenor of the original vocal version with its longer note values, while the upper part carries a higher line, often very ornate. In principle, this is similar to keyboard notation still in use today, with its left-hand/right-hand division, and could thus concur exactly with the performance practice described by Prudenzani, that of also playing vocal music on the keyboard. This seems all the more probable as Prudenzani mentions pieces of music that appear as well in the Codex Faenza, such as the madrigal by Jacopo da Bologna, which has given this recording its poetic title: "I' mi son un che per le frasche andando, / Vo' pur cercando dilettosi fiori, / per far girlanda a mi de novi odori." (I am one who wanders in the countryside, always searching for delightful flowers, with which to make garlands of new fragrances).

For which keyboard instruments was the keyboard music in the Codex Faenza conceived? Prudenzani sets out a list of several different types: alongside organs with no precise specification ("orgheni"), he cites "organi framegni", that is, Flemish organs. This could mean a so-called organetto, a small portative organ placed on the lap, and played with one hand while the other worked the bellows. In an inventory of the Medicis in 1456, a difference is made between "uno orghano di canne a due mani" (a pipe organ for two hands), and "uno orghano fiammingho a una mano" (a Flemish organ for one hand). Further on in Prudenzani's text, mention is made of a "menacordo", meaning a clavichord, a keyboard instrument in which the strings are made to vibrate with a mechanism of tangents. Mention of another keyboard instrument is possibly made, hidden away in one of the manuscripts in which Il Saporetto has survived: alongside the "sampognia" (bagpipe) it alludes to the apparently alternative name for a keyboard instrument "con la cecchola" (sonnet 31). The term "cecchola", documented nowhere else, could mean the instrument called several times "exchiquier" (chekker) in 14th- and 15th-century texts. This seems to be – based on the visual resemblance of the instrument's rectangular case to an abacus or chessboard – the earliest known designation of a stringed keyboard instrument. Our attention is thus drawn to a particular musical instrument regarded as an "invention" around 1450. A certain Hermann Poll, from Vienna, who studied (notably) at Padua, became a doctor of medicine there in 1398, and was making a rapid career at the court of Rupert III, Elector Palatine, then German king from 1400, was hanged in 1401 at the age of 31, during the Diet of Nuremberg, for hatching a plot to murder his sovereign. In a contemporary record of these events, he is referred to as "optimus musicus in organis et in aliis quibusdam instrumentis musicalibus" (an excellent musician on the organs, and certain other musical instruments). And a few years before that, in 1397, it is reported in a letter on the subject of the promising young man of Padua, that he was the inventor of a musical instrument he called a "clavicembalum" ("inventor unius instrumento, quod nominat clavicembalum"). This name is derived from the Latin "claves" (key), and "cimbalum", which in mediaeval Latin means bell, simultaneously referring to that which is called "cymbales" in the Psalms. What is meant here is an instrument activated by keys, and where the strings are sounded by a plucking mechanism. The association with the term cymbales is perhaps explained by its clear, bell-like timbre.

Even if Hermann Poll's "invention" of the instrument remains debatable – mention is made as early as 1388, in a letter of the king of Aragon, of a "sturment semblant dorguens que sona ab cordes" (an instrument resembling an organ, sounded with strings) – by the beginning of the 15th century, evidence of a keyboard string instrument, both in text and image, increases markedly. The reason for its success surely lies above all in the fact that it perfectly fulfils the desire for one person to be able to play multiple-voice compositions, as well as reflecting the gradually growing domestic musical culture, one in which educated people spent their leisure time "playing music for oneself", as opposed to "having music played for one" at court. An important piece of evidence about the milieu in which this predecessor of the harpsichord was played is contained in a collection of manuscripts dating from the beginning of the 1440s, today conserved in Paris (Bibliothèque Nationale, f.lat. 7295). It was made by Henri-Arnaut de Zwolle (d. 1461), doctor, astronomer and astrologer, in the service of the Duke of Burgundy from 1432 – a typical intellectual of his epoch, one that displayed a growing interest in the mechanical arts. Alongside essays, designs for tools and machines, and astronomical tables, are plans and notes about various muscial instruments, including a "clavisimbalum" (which also served as the model for the instrument built for this recording). Arnaut de Zwolle's clavisimbilum displays a wing-shaped case with a prominent keyboard with a range of a little more than three octaves. The manuscript gives no indication of actual measures, only proportions, and seems to describe a 4-foot instrument (that is, sounding an octave higher than the layout of the keyboard suggests). The author also describes some very different mechanisms for sounding the strings: along with various methods of plucking (among others with plates of brass, or tongues of horn), there is a system for striking the strings, 250 years before the invention of the fortepiano! In the mechanism chosen for our reconstruction – plucking the strings with quill-tips ("pluma") – the jacks are firmly connected with the key levers by a snap closure. Therefore there is no batten above the strings to stop the jacks, and also no damping. These features taken together – a high register, metal strings and free resonance – explains the "marvellous sweetness" (mire suavitatis) of the instrument, praised at the time, among other characteristics, for being "more sweet and sonorous" (quod dulcius et sonorosius sonat) than a clavichord – according to Paulus Paulirinus in about 1460.

The songs mentioned by Prudenzani in Il Saporetto are often complex compositions, featuring elaborate text settings. One could even go further in thinking that these songs are a particular form of text declamation, a sort of musical interpretation of the text. If, however, the songs are only performed instrumentally, then the textual level disappears, leaving only the musical envelope. It could certainly be imagined that, within the erudite circles of those that would have played this music, a sufficient level of musical knowledge permitted association of the text with the music. Considering the instrumental versions notated in the Codex Faenza, however, the music seems to have developed into a form of its own. The incipits are missing for a number of the pieces, rendering it impossible to identify the vocal original. The complicated internal repetition forms of the original madrigals and ballate are here no longer taken into account – the pieces generally proceed simply from the beginning to the end. Moreover, the ornaments and diminutions in the upper voice are often so rich and dense as to render the recognition of the original melody impossible. This is the case, for example, in Jacopo da Bologna's Aquila altera, originally a madrigal with three texts sung simultaneously (Aquila altera / Creatura gentil / Uccel di Dio) – an elaborate song of praise, addressed perhaps to Gian Galeazzo Visconti, which includes subtle allusions to Dante's Divine Comedy. It is impossible to hear this in the intabulation, as also in the complex ballata, Un fior gentil m'apparse by Antonio Zacara da Teramo, included in the Codex Faenza, but lacking any mention of its source. Another example would be the French ballad A discort sont désir et espérance based on Guillaume de Machaut's Se ma dame n'en fait brief-ment l'acort, unrecognisable in Indescort in the codex, even if it were possible to guess the original vocal version; or Imperiale sedendo fra piú stelle by Bartolino da Padova, which appears as In perial sedendo in the codex. In this way, the intabulations achieve their own musical-instrumental dimension. The dialogue between the two parts, as well as the upper voice's turns of phrase – now playful, now audacious – are thus in service of a pre-ordained plan, and the original melodic basis fulfils only a structural function. But once this construction is discovered, it holds a special charm for the connaisseur, whether player or auditor.

One evening, a "pifero venuto da Flandra" (wind-instrument player come from Flanders) was invited to Pierbaldo's court, to play for the dancing. Perhaps this "Flemish minstrel" actually played a flute, although the name "pifero" really meant at the time nothing more precise than any player of any common woodwind instrument. But on another occasion, it was the turn of "un bon fiauto", and in this case it seems certainly to mean a recorder, an instrument often represented in iconography, some surviving examples being preserved as archeological discoveries. The double flute – a recorder of two parallel pipes that permits limited two-part playing, the lower part, however, going beyond a simple drone – only survives in iconography. All this lends the dream described above an acoustic dimension, and furnishes the court of Pierbaldo imagined by Simone Prudenzani with an unprecedented sound-world. Taking our cue from those dreamy revels, we could almost say we never yet heard such a beautiful image...

Martin Kirnbauer
Translation: Will Wroth