Diminutions, the art of extemporary embellishment or melodic variation, were an essential part of performance practice of the Renaissance and early Baroque periods. The basis of diminutions (also called passaggi), is the fragmentation of a long note or series of long notes into many shorter and faster ones that move around the original melody.
The number of treatises that were devoted to the teaching of this subject is a clear indication of the importance of diminutions at that time. These treatises contained pages and pages of alternate ways to subdivide long notes and ornament all of the most common intervals (ascending and descending seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, etc.) and cadences in various note values, which performers were expected to practice diligently to be able to apply them to any piece of music, eventually creating their own formulas and even freely improvise them. Ultimately, diminutions were to be applied in performance as a form of virtuosic improvisation and to make a piece of music more ‘beautiful’.
This CD explores the widespread practice of diminutions by presenting published examples of diminutions on well-known motets, by master composers; diminutions on popular melodies or dance forms of the time and finally, diminutions composed by the performer as artist.
Release Date6 March 2020
PeopleLeonor de Lera, Rodney Prada, Josep María Martí, Javier Núñez, Ignacio Ramal
Descendi in hortum meum
Vestiva i colli
Romanesca per violino solo
Pulchra es amica mea
La mia pedrina
Io canterei d'amor
O felici occhi miei
Vestiva i colli a doi
Petite fleur coincte
Tarantella del Gargano
Nominated for Best Baroque Instrumental Album
International Classical Music Awards
Winner of "La Clef ResMusica" award
★★★★★ "Needless to say, the CD is a pleasure to listen from beginning to end: for the superb music, for the interpretation proposed between sacred, profane and theatrical, between instrumental and vocal, demonstrating that one thing is to improvise “'randomly”, and another is to do so referring to the criteria in use at the time."
“It is the work of a goldsmith, both in the preparation and the interpretation, what they have accomplished, which confirms – and this is the best part – the excellent impression they made with their debut CD (Altri canti d’amor) two years ago with the same record label.”
"The most impressive part of the listening experience might be the freewheeling-sounding – yet always tasteful – instrumental virtuosity on display here. "
“L'Arte di diminuire" (Challenge Classics, 2020), just like "Altri Canti D'Amor - 17th Century Instrumental Works" (Challenge Classics, 2017) can delight every second”
" This disc rich in colours, is a perfect illustration of baroque instrumental rhetoric.”
★★★★ "These are unfailingly played beautifully, with a lovely sense of creativity and liveliness.”
“Soulful melodising, virtuosity, decorousness and dynamism are all allied to a single expressive goal.”
★★★★★ “We’ll just say that this CD is full of virtuosity and excellence, with a speech of early Baroque style that, to our ears, would pass for native or of having lived a good while during that time.”
"This disc deserves the attention of all lovers of early music, not only because of the fine performances of the written-out pieces [...]"
Musica Dei Donum
"High quality of performance, precision and graceful virtuosity fully reveal the declared theme of the album."
Music Life Magazine
9/10 “This is, for all its immersion in “diminution”, the relevant term for this practice of variation and embellishment, is one of the more attractive, engaging, and eminently repeatable recitals you will hear of 16th and 17th century music for strings”
★★★★ “You won't be bored for a moment in the sound world of L'Estro d'Orfeo”