Willaert & Musica Nova

Willaert: Complete Works, Volume 7
Willaert and his circle
Ricercari da Musica Nova (1540)
Lorenzini / Negri / Villani / Azzarelli
Stradivarius 33355


  1. Willaert: Ricercare I (harpsichord)
  2. Segni: Ricercare III (harpsichord)
  3. Segni: Ricercare IV (organ, harpsichord)
  4. Segni or Willaert: Ricercare VI (organ)
  5. Benoist: Ricercare VII (organ, harpsichord)
  6. Segni: Ricercare VIII (harpsichord, organ)
  7. Segni: Ricercare IX (organ)
  8. Willaert: Ricercare X (2 organs)
  9. Segni: Ricercare XI (organ)
  10. Segni: Ricercare XII (harpsichord)
  11. Segni or Willaert: Ricercare XIII (harpsichord)
  12. Willaert: Ricercare XIV (organ, harpsichord)
  13. Segni: Ricercare XV (harpsichord, organ)
  14. Segni: Ricercare XVI (2 organs)
  15. Golin: Ricercare XVII (harpsichord, organ)
  16. Parabosco: Ricercare XVIII (organ)
  17. Segni: Ricercare XIX (organ, harpsichord)
  18. Cavazzoni: Ricercare XX (harpsichord, organ)
  19. Parabosco: Ricercare XXI (harpsichord)
  20. Willaert or Segni: Ricercare XXII / Appendix 1 (organ)
  21. Coste: Ricercare XXIII / Appendix 2 (organ)

Performers: Danilo Lorenzini (harpsichord), Antonio Eros Negri (organo tamburini, organ XVII secolo), Riccardo Villani (harpsichord, organs), Giuseppe Azzarelli (organ XVI secolo)

Playing time: 77'

Recording date: November 1993

Instruments: Harpsichord (Flemish by Martin Sassmann, Hamburg); Organ XVII secolo; Organ XVI secolo; Organo Tamburini della Chiesa di Santa Bernardetta in Milano

The Musica Nova of 1540 consists of 21 ricercares written out in four separate part-books and intended "for the organ or other instruments" and this performance chooses the common practice of pairing keyboard instruments in many of them. This is one of the earliest published examples of fully imitative instrumental music (also appearing intabulated on the lute), and was quickly copied in other publications and even reprinted in France in Musicque de Ioye (in which the last two "appendix" selections survive).

Willaert's influence here cannot be underestimated. He was the one who was principally responsible for integrating the imitative contrapuntal writing of the Franco-Flemish school with the instrumental technology & sonority of Italy. These early works revolved around him and his school.

Besides Willaert, composers represented are Giulio Segni (1498-1561), Girolamo Cavazzoni (c.1510-c.1565), Girolamo Parabosco (c.1520-1557), Nicolò Benoist (b.c.1510), Guillelmo Golin (b.c.1510), and Gabriel Coste (fl. 1538-1543). The two ricercari (Nos. 2 & 5) left off of the present recording are also by Segni.

Another recording taken from this publication, performed only on the organ:

Musica Nova
Accomodata per cantar et sonar sopra organi et altri stromenti (1540)
Liuwe Tamminga
Tactus 540001

And a recording on diverse instruments:

Musica Nova
Accomodata per cantar et sonar sopra organi et altri stromenti (1540)
Consort Veneto - Giovanni Toffano
Tactus 540002

The first publication of intabulations strictly for organ was subsequently done by Cavazzoni in 1543. Cavazzoni was a student of Willaert as were Parabosco, Zarlino, and probably the others represented here. A recording of his second volume:

Cavazzoni: Intabulatura for Organ, Libro II
Sergio Vartolo / Nova Schola Gregoriana - Alberto Turco
Tactus 510390 (2 CDs)

Of course, organ music continued in prominence in Italy long after Musica Nova. A nice anthology of later music:

150 Anni di Musica Italiana
1550-1700, da Gabrieli a Rossi
Rinaldo Alessandrini
Opus 111 30-119

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Todd M. McComb