Antonio Zacara da Teramo is emerging as one of the best-known musical figures of the decades around 1400, after Ciconia and perhaps Perusio. His music begins to project a distinct personality, and consists of works in a progression of styles, from simpler more typical Trecento music to some of the twistiest examples of Ars Subtilior style. The present program deals exclusively with his secular music.
There is a range of secular music in this program, including many interesting items, but not all of Zacara's most celebrated works. The interpretive style is very "hands on" in the sense of making bold decisions, incorporating aspects of multiple sources, reconstructing lost parts, deploying ornament, etc. This seems to be a natural consequence of a greater familiarity and fluency with medieval style... performers can feel more confident & idiomatic in making choices outside of the surviving notation, even as regards matters of note & rhythm. The result here sounds completely in keeping with the style, and the inclusion of ornament or even diminution is probably more representative of actual performance in the era, if not in detail, at least in principle.
That said, Zacara's music can be very intricate, with a wealth of allusion that is not fully understood today. That can make it seem a bit ponderous at times, particularly given the length of some of his pieces. He is, in some sense, the most Subtilior of Ars Subtilior composers — giving his output a particular fascination, as well as an opacity that is only partially being penetrated. This recording makes a real contribution to that project.
To medieval secular listTodd M. McComb