“L’Arte di diminuire” – 4**** on Klassiek Centraal

“L’Arte di diminuire” has been awarded 4**** and a very nice review on Belgian online music magazine Klassiek Centraal. (See english translation below)


“… this CD is a pleasure to listen to.”


“You won’t be bored for a moment in the sound world of L’Estro d’Orfeo.”


“The five sovereignly control their instruments.”







**** The Spanish violinist Leonor de Lera and her ensemble L’Estro d’Orfeo familiarize us on their latest CD with the 16th and early 17th century L’Arte di diminuire, or rather the art of decorating. Because that’s a diminution: a decoration, meant to embellish a simple musical theme.

But perhaps improvisation covers the load even better. And then you immediately end up with jazz. Take a simple melodic and harmonic piece and leave it to the musician to make something beautiful out of it. Think of John Coltrane’s immortal improvisation on My Favorite Things. Of course, like any other comparison, this one is also flawed, if only because dozens of treatises have been written about the importance of diminution and its effect and numerous feuds have been fought. Jazz, on the other hand, mainly has an oral tradition and therefore greater freedom.

Lera and her ensemble have made their home in this special musical universe dominated by imaginative names such as Fransesco Rognoni, Biagio Marini, Marco Uccellini, Bartolome de Selma y Salverde and many others. Names that probably don’t ring a bell with everyone. Jazz musicians of yesteryear.
Time for an introduction, because this CD is a pleasure to listen to.

You won’t be bored for a moment in the sound world of L’Estro d’Orfeo. The ever- changing line-up in which besides De Lera’s baroque violin, also gamba, baroque guitar, theorbo, harpsichord and even a viola da bastarda can be heard, creates a varied mix in which virtuosity and musical taste are balanced.

The five sovereignly control their instruments. Everyone comes into his own solo, but this is never at the expense of the whole. The interplay is perfect. The solos are adventurous and surprising. Take the long drawn-out lines of the sonorous viola da bastarda accompanied by a throbbing theorbo in Rognoni’s Modo Difficile, or the romantic melody of Marini’s Romanesca that culminates in exhilarating improvisation.

Lera’s own adaptations of Di Palestrina stand out for the creativity with which she repeats a simple theme over and over again and avoids monotony, serene and virtuoso at the same time, a fascinating combination. Of course, a typical genre piece from that time should not be missing La Folia. In this case, the madness was set by Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger. Improvisations on a Tarantella del Gargano are the swinging bouncer of this 16th century jazz CD.

L’Estro d’Orfeo convincingly takes the first steps in the improvised music of a bygone era. Yet I feel that the limits of freedom have not yet been reached.
Hopefully Orfeus will seduce them into even more adventure! I look forward to it!