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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Triumphant!,
This review is from: Canzoni e Danze: Wind Music from Renaissance Italy (Audio CD)This is truly one of the best albums of Renaissance music currntly available! Purely instrumental! Much of it appears to be music for a royal court event or the like, with much use of brass and wind instruments. There are also many selections for the festival setting, usually involving the bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy. Too many albums of ancient music "pad" the content with monotonous choral polyphonic selections, perhaps starting out with one or two really good instrumental pieces. However, they did not do that in this one!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen! Music in the Air! Let's Go to the Plaza!,
This review is from: Canzoni e Danze: Wind Music from Renaissance Italy (Audio CD)There are 30 selections of Renaissance instrumental music - some dances, some polyphonic fantasies, some incidental music for courty or urban celebrations. It would have been a common experience in the 15th C to hear in public places the instruments you can see "Piffaro" holding in the cover art. Piffaro means "piper", and most of their instruments are wind - the dounble reed shawms, the narrow-bore trombone, flutes and recorders. Wind players were tradesmen and guild members in the Renaissance, but they were not commonly unable to read music as some have claimed. In fact, many of the manuscripts of elegant vocal chansons that have survived were originally prepared for use by the "piffari" of Ferrara, Verona, etc. There was no wall of separation between vocal music composed by clerics and court favorites and instrumental music that functioned as lively entertainment.
That's what Piffaro brings to life for concerts and recordings. But it's fiendishly hard to make a satisfying concert of 30 short, brilliant, but similar instrumental fantasies, however often one changes horns. I adore this music but it's best in small doses, a piece or two at a time, overheard in a park or before a wedding. Fortunately, with a CD, that kind of listening is possible, and you don't even need to get married!
What makes Piffaro special is not only that they play all those exotic instruments, but that they play them well. If you're old enough to remember David Munrow, the New York Pro Musica, and other Renaissance Faire bands of the 50s and 60s, you may be skeptical that anyone could play a shawm or a crumhorn with finesse, but Piffaro does it. Load this CD on your iPod. It's perfect for outdoors.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Worth the Listening,
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This review is from: Canzoni e Danze: Wind Music from Renaissance Italy (Audio CD)Simply lovely. Some whimsical, some more technically serious. In all, definitely worth the money and the time. One of my new favorites.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Piffaro Renaissance Band Superb,
By A Customer
This review is from: Canzoni e Danze: Wind Music from Renaissance Italy (Audio CD)This CD has me dancing in the streets. I have played holes in the recording. The musicianship is extraordinary with excitement, love and a great warm sense of pleasure taken by everyone involved. Renaissance instruments are not generally known for subtlety or nuance, but these players work miracles. The percussion sections are also integral to the whole and thrilling, where appropriate. Piffaro, please keep your music coming.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really fun collection of Renaissance music,
This review is from: Canzoni e Danze: Wind Music from Renaissance Italy (Audio CD)I was lucky enough to see this group in concert a few years ago. Their music is delightful, a playful collection of Renaissance pieces. At this concert were young and old alike, and all ages revelled in the performance. The performers were enthusiastic and gracious enough to allow concert-goers to come look at their instruments during intermission and after the show. I bought this CD as soon as I could following the concert.
Piffaro uses "ancient" instruments, including a French bagpipe (smaller than the Scottish), sacbuts, and the hurdy-gurdy.
This is an upbeat collection of early music, much more fun than some (although I also enjoy more somber early music collections as well). It's very accessible for listeners unfamiliar with the period. The songs are delightful enough that I can picture children at play with this CD as background music.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Popular Tunes of the 16th Century on Ancient Instruments,
This review is from: Canzoni e Danze: Wind Music from Renaissance Italy (Audio CD)"Canzoni e danze": Wind Music from Renaissance Italy. Performed by Piffaro - the Renaissance Band (dir. Joan Kimball and Robert Wiemken). Recorded in June and July 1994 at St. Osdag's Church in Mandelsloh, Germany. Released in 1995 as Deutsche Grammophon Archiv 445 883-2 (and since then re-released at mid-price: Canzoni e Danze). Total playing time: 62'29".
The Philadelphia Renaissance Wind Band was founded in 1980 and has been under the joint direction of Joan Kimball and Robert Wiemken since 1988. After appearing at the "Tage Alter Musik" in Regensburg, Germany, the group was signed up on "exclusive" contract to Deutsche Grammophon Archiv, for whom they made a total of four CDs under the name "Piffaro". This name is appropriate because it expresses the band's programme: on a wide selection of late medieval and renaissance instruments they attempt to recreate the repertoire of the "Stadtpfeifer" (German) or "Piffari" (Italian), bands of city "waits" who would play popular tunes in the open air at special events during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. These bands are documented as having both loud, raucous, rollicking repertoire played on brass and other wind instruments (shawms, trombones, crumhorns, dulcian, bagpipes) and softer pieces to be played on instruments such as the lute, the bandora, recorders or flutes. The pieces on this CD represent both categories pleasantly alternating between the extremes; as far as I am able to gather the information from the rather flimsy booklet, it seems that quite a number of the pieces were originally written for very different instrumental or vocal combinations and that "Piffaro" have taken the liberty of re-scoring them for their particular combination of instruments. At all events, this is a highly entertaining disk of somewhat unusual music of the more popular kind, and the excellent playing deserves the five stars which all the reviewers up to now have awarded it. The only complaint I have is about the booklet, which offers only a minimum of information and, in particular, gives no details whatsoever about the instruments used or who is playing when. Those who enjoy these ancient instruments would do well to purchase one of the BIS CDs by the Joculatores Upsalienses, where the excellently printed, comprehensive booklets offer a glossary of medieval and renaissance instruments with illustrations taken partly from contemporary sources (Joculatores Upsalienses: Early Music at Wik; The Four Seasons; Skogen, Flickan och Flaskan).
The other Piffaro productions for Deutsche Grammophon Archiv are here: Chansons et Danceries (French Renaissance Wind Music); Flemish Feast: Renaissance Wind Music; Los Ministriles: Spanish Renaissance Wind Music.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb musicianship on ancient instruments....,
This review is from: Canzoni e Danze: Wind Music from Renaissance Italy (Audio CD)I wish composers were still writing for hurdy-gurdy @ crumhorn...what a wonderful sound. I especially liked "La Parma". I do believe a modern tunesmith has taken that melody @ recently made a rather haunting popular song from it; a female vocalist, I think. If anyone out there can remember what the name of that modern tune is @ will post it here, it will save me some on-going mental annoyance. You won't go wrong in buying this album!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stirring,
This review is from: Canzoni e Danze: Wind Music from Renaissance Italy (Audio CD)The Italian Renaissance was not all serious Leonardo da Vinci and the Popes. Some people went out and had fun, and you can hear it here. While Piffaro are lots better players than typical street players must have been, their brash music might not have been welcome in the better palazzo. This is not quiet, courtly music. They often make a raucous noise in the many short and often very lively dances. If you don't like the reedy, nasal sound of some Near Eastern music, you may not like the prominent shawms here. But I think the raw energy of this music, and the sheer fun Piffaro shares, is just terrific.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Italian Renaissance Music,
This review is from: Canzoni e Danze: Wind Music from Renaissance Italy (Audio CD)This is an excellent collection of Italian Renaissance wind music. If your interest in music extends to the pre-Baroque, this CD will certainly reward your consideration. The performances are executed so well, that one almost wonders whether they sound better than would have been the case with respect to a performance contemporaneous with the composition of these works.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Renaissance Faire. Buy it!,
This review is from: Canzoni e Danze: Wind Music from Renaissance Italy (Audio CD)'Piffaro The Renaissance Band' is a Philadelphia group who has done several superior albums of Renaissance music for the label 'Archiv', late of Deutche Grammaphone, now part of Polygram. I was astonished when I heard from a student of one of the directors, Robert Wiemken, that the band is paid virtually nothing to make the record and have it distributed. While I would expect that from a minor label, it is surprising that an act should make it to Deutche Grammaphone and not be paid for their recording. I go into this minor digression because I am especially impressed by this recording and all their others as well.
I do take issue with it's being labelled a recording of 'wind' music, as there is ample representation from the family of string instruments, most famously the guitar and the hurdy gurdy.
Although I really enjoy 'old music', I'm not an expert on it, but I set out to distinguish this music from modern stuff, and the two I can find are the presence here of a lot of drone instruments such as the bagpipe and the hurdy gurdy and the absence of instruments such as the clarinet which give us that lushly woody tenor we hear in pieces such as 'Rapsody in Blue' or in some of Kurt Weill's German stage pieces. We also certainly miss the rich sounds of the piano, as the pianoforte has not been invented yet.
If you like old music, this band is a 'must hear'!
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Canzoni e Danze: Wind Music from Renaissance Italy by Piffaro (Audio CD - 1995)
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