La Morte Della Ragione

La Morte Della Ragione ‘The Death of Reason’
Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini
Outhere Music. ALPHA 450. CD Book. 73’07

La Morte della Ragione (The Death of Reason) (CD + Book) | Alpha ALPHA450

La Morte della Ragione (The Death of Reason) is the sort of recording that may require you to put on a seat belt before listening. Under the banner of Petrarch’s comment that “Senses reign, and Reason is dead” Il Giardino Armonico take us on a whistlestop tour through a sizeable chunk of early music history. The choice of descriptor is deliberate, as it is also very obviously a showcase for the virtuoso recorder playing of director Giovanni Antonini, which dominates much of the programme and comes vey close to be too clever by half.

The title came from the first piece, an anonymous pavane based on Petrarch’s observation Regnano i sensi, et la ragion è morta”. This is seen as referring to Erasmus’s description of two forms of madness -“the sweet illusion of the spirit” and the opposing, “one that the vengeful Furies conjure up from hell”. There follows 27 tracks of lively and instrumentaly rich pieces, performed with great gusto by the 14 players. The arrangements are inventive if, perhaps, not always as the composers might have envisaged. We hear magnificently virtuoso playing by Andrea Inghisciano and Gawain Glenton, cornetts, and Emily White, trombone, amongst others.

Examples range from John Dunstable’s Puzzle Canon to the concluding Galliard Battaglia by Scheidt via a rather self-indulgant version of Upon la mi re (possibly by Thomas Preston) which descends into very free and (rather screechy) recorder cornett diminutions. Other pieces have a similar ‘jam-session’ feel to them that may not appeal to all tastes. But if are prepared to wade through the details of what the CD is trying to portray, you may warm to it.

The CD is contained within a 99-page illustrated booklet. More information, and link to the programme note, can be found here.