Giovanni Maria Trabaci lived from 1575 till 1647. A highly prolific composer he left a vast oeuvre of vocal and instrumental music. Especially his works for keyboard are important: his bold, forward looking style, full of daring chromatisms and unexpected harmonic turns, have paved the way for Frescobaldi and others.
I believe that this was Andrew Lawrence-King's first recording (1986) – a sterling effort which is ample proof of why he went on to become a well-established figure in his field. He has appeared on numerous recordings, including many with Jordi Savall's Hesperian XX, and is currently the director of the Harp Consort. The program is both musically interesting and eminently listenable; and given Lawrence-King's credentials (he won an Organ Scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge and completed his studies at the London Early Music Centre), his understanding of the material is unquestionably comprehensive. His technical execution is equally impressive.
The King's Noyse are a terrific ensemble who have made a lot of very good discs indeed over the years. This is among them. It is billed as a disc from 1995 of dance music and song from Italy between about 1580 and 1650, which though strictly accurate, may be a little misleading. Lively dance rhythms are certainly there, but a good deal of the disc is contemplative and sometimes rather melancholy in feel. There are single works by both Monteverdi and Gesualdo but the other works are largely by much more obscure composers, and although I know a little of some like Rovetta and Castello, most were completely new to me. I always like to be introduced to new composers, and the music is very fine throughout the disc.
Theatrical chamber music might appear to be a contradiction in terms, but the unlikely idea is fulfilled by these sparkling, highly wrought trio sonatas. For despite their title, that is what they are: most composers of the 18th century may have used the sonata designation for this form, but Alessandro Stradella employed at least several of these works as preludes or overtures to his dramatic and sacred works such as the oratorio Susanna (already recorded on Brilliant Classics, BC94345).
This new project is a Tribute to Erasmus (1466-1536), a Dutch Renaissance scholar, known as the 'Prince of the Humanists'. Using humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament and also wrote 'In Praise of Folly', 'Handbook of a Christian Knight' and many other works. Erasmus lived against the backdrop of the growing European religious Reformation; but while he was critical of the abuses within the Church and called for reform, he kept his distance from Luther and Melancthon and continued to recognise the authority of the Pope. His middle of the road approach disappointed and even angered scholars in both camps. Jordi Savall regards him as a model of wisdom and tolerance.