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Harmonia Early Music

Piffaro and the English Renaissance

Piffaro debuts the recording "Waytes," Instrumenta Musica performs 17th-century Venetian wind music, and Florilegium explores the Bolivian Baroque.

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The Renaissace Band Piffaro has been championing early wind music for over three decades. Led by directors Joan Kimball and Robert Wiemken, one of their more recent recordings on the Navona label features music from the English Renaissance.

Entitled Waytes, the recording takes its name from the term used in 16th-century England for town musicians, often skilled in several instruments, while some were known for their singing. Wayte is also an Old English word for shawm, an early type of oboe commonly used by town waytes.

The composers represented in Piffaro’s recording are some of the period’s most well-known, including William Byrd, John Mundy, Alfonso Ferrabosco, and Thomas Weelkes—the last of which was especially known for his madrigals, or consort songs.

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Apart from arrangements of consort songs, Piffaro performs dance tunes, some traditional like the pavane and galliard, and others with evocative titles such as French King’s Masque and The Second Witch’s Dance.

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It is next to impossible to escape mention of composer Claudio Monteverdi when speaking of Venetian music from the first half of the 17th Century. This is true for ensemble Instrumenta Musica’s Ramee recording entitled O vos amici mei carissimi, which contains works by several of Monteverdi’s contemporaries who either worked or published music in Venice.

The recording draws special attention to vocal and instrumental works that incorporate sackbuts, or trombones.

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Our featured release is on the Channel Classics label and is the third part in a series devoted to baroque and early classical music found in Spanish colonial Bolivia. Ensemble Florilegium has been championing the repertoire for some time with the help of Polish priest and musicologist Piotr Nawrot.

Volume three features a collaboration between Florilegium and the Arakaendar Bolivia Choir and is a continuation, in many ways, from volume two, includes villancicos and other church pieces from Bolivian archives.

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Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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