L'Arte di diminuire

The Art of diminutions

Released in 2020

Record Label: Challenge Classics

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.

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.