CD Review: Mesura et Arte del Danzare

[ This article appeared in volume 3 of the Letter of Dance. ]

Mesura et Arte del Danzare: Balli Italiani del Quatrocento by the Accademia Viscontea I Musicanti. CDL 002, Ducale, Italy 1991.

by Geoffrey Matthais

This disc contains sixteen different dances from the fifteenth century Italian sources. In general, the music is very good, well played and pleasant to listen to. The tempos are not exactly what I would choose, but that is a common enough problem with recordings of the Italian fifteenth century dance music, since there is so much variation in how the music and the steps are interpreted. I found the music a little fast for those dances which I know reconstructions of, but within the range where they could be danced. Some sort of variable speed tape recorder makes things much easier, however.

The majority of the tracks (nine) are dances choreographed by Domenico da Piacenza, with another four by Guglielmo Ebreo. Sources for these are extant, and are listed in the liner notes. The remainder of the tracks are anonymous, and while they are dances, we have no choreography which is known to match them. All in all, this is a valuable recording, and is well worth having. It has more useful fifteenth century dance music than any other recording that I know of, and the music is both well played and well researched. I recommend this recording to anyone with serious interest in reconstruction of these dances.

Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir (Greg Lindahl) (