Frescobaldi was the most influential composer for keyboard in Italy prior to Domenico Scarlatti. Bach copied out Frescobaldi’s Fiori Musicali, and he was also a strong influence on Fux and Buxtehude. His reputation has been slow to gain its rightful status over the past century or so. This edition provides a superb opportunity to discover this neglected master of the Baroque.
The attribution of works to Benvenuto di Giovanni and his son Girolamo di Benvenuto is problematic and is complicated by the fact that the two undoubtedly collaborated on several works. Focusing on two paintings in the Museum’s collection, the authors reexamine attributions to these artists and compare the paintings to work in other collections in the United States.
From Frescobaldi's collections published between 1615 and 1637 Gustav Leonhardt has chosen ten works illustrating six of the classes of composition Frescobaldi cultivated: four toccatas, two partitas, a canzona, a ricercar, a Magnificat, and a capriccio. He performs six pieces on the organ and the other four on the harpsichord.
Leonhardt shows himself here to be a superb musician, both technically and temperamentally. He has taken almost infinite pains to achieve convincing and appropriate phrasing and articulation. When the music should be slow, he plays it slowly; but when it should not, he usually adopts very brisk tempos.
[The canzonas] in the 1628 collection show [Frescobaldi's] wonderful inventiveness and profligacy with musical ideas which never outstay their welcome but are constantly replaced with new ones or with modifications of the originals. They are forged from the simplest of musical materials - a repeated interval, a fraction of a scale, a rhythmic pattern - but each is individually crafted and ear-catching. The genre is inherently non-demonstrative and must have been used as background music much of the time, but Frescobaldi never flags in imagination and the sheer range and variety of his invention is breath-taking, underscored in these performances by a great diversity of instrumentation. (Noel O'Regan, CD booklet, 2008)