Out of the Shadows

Thursday, 10 March 2022

A room of mirrors: Emiliano Gonzalez Toro, Zachary Wilder and Ensemble I Gemelli

A room of mirrors; Vincenzo Calestani, Sigismondo d'India, Francesco Turini, Biagio Marini, Andrea Falconieri, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Dario Castello, Annibale Gregori, Bellerofonte Castaldi, Galeazzo Sabbatini; Emiliano Gonzalez Toro, Zachary Wilder, Ensemble I Gemelli; Gemelli Factory
A room of mirrors
; Vincenzo Calestani, Sigismondo d'India, Francesco Turini, Biagio Marini, Andrea Falconieri, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Dario Castello, Annibale Gregori, Bellerofonte Castaldi, Galeazzo Sabbatini; Emiliano Gonzalez Toro, Zachary Wilder, Ensemble I Gemelli; Gemelli Factory

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 8 March 2022 Star rating: 5.0 (★★★★★)
The first disc on Ensemble I Gemelli's label proves to be enchanting in more ways than one

A room of mirrors is the first disc from Ensemble I Gemelli's new Gemelli Factory label. For A room of mirrors, Ensemble I Gemelli are joined by tenors Emiliano Gonzalez Toro (co-founder of I Gemelli) and Zachary Wilder for a programme of 17th century duets by Vincenzo Calestani, Sigismondo d'India, Francesco Turini, Biagio Marini, Andrea Falconieri, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Dario Castello, Annibale Gregori, Bellerofonte Castaldi and Galeazzo Sabbatini.

The image of the mirror passes through the disc in a number of ways. For a start, the motif of the mirror moves through the philosophy of the period, then there is the fact that the music on the disc is for two equal, mirrored voices, and finally there is something of a musical pun. Notable by his absence from the disc is Claudio Monteverdi, yet his influence is felt constantly in the music we do hear, and many of the pieces have been chose because they mirror works by Monteverdi. 

Gonzalez Toro and Wilder make a well matched pair, both are wonderfully stylish singers and can match each other note for note in the more elaborate figurations. Yet, thankfully, each has a distinct vocal personality; Gonzalez Toro has a dark, huskiness to his timbre, and Wilder a more upbeat brightness. Each is given a pair of solos, and at the centre of the disc are a group of instrumental items too, so that everyone gets their moment.

The instrumental pieces are lively, imaginatively scored and played, with both virtuoso playing and bravura moments that move towards improvisation. It is this combination of freedom, imagination and technique that characterises all the music on the disc. Many of the pieces are positively toe-tapping, and the performance of Calestani's Damigella tutta bella as the first track certainly draws us in and each track following changes the mood and style, keeping us engaged. 

Yet everything not lively, there are such interior moments as d'India's Giunto alla tomba, a haunting solo from Gonzalez Toro, and the intense intertwining voices of Notari's Intenerite voi. And because a piece is slow and intense, doesn't preclude it being a virtuoso challenge too.

What really engages though is the way everyone seems to believe in the music, we don't worry about the virtuosity because it is part of the vivid way these pieces are put over. This is music making that draws you in. 

One of the added advantages of this lovely recital is the fact that many of the composers and the works were unfamiliar, yet thanks to I Gemelli and the two soloists, each piece drew my attention. The imaginative way the programme has been assembled and the fine performances certainly bode well for future releases from Gemelli Factory.

Damigella tutta bella - Vincenzo Calestani (1589-after 1617)
Dialogo della rosa - Sigismondo d’India (1582-1629)
Dove ten’vai - Francesco Turini (1595-1656)
La vecchia innamorata - Biagio Marini (1594-1663)
Folia echa para mi señora - Andrea Falconieri (1585?-1656)
Se l’aura spira - Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643)
Sonata Quarta - Dario Castello (1602-1631)
Mai non disciolgasi - Annibale Gregori (?-1633)
Piangono al pianger mio - Sigismondo d’India
Langue al vostro languir - Sigismondo d’India
Giunto alla tomba - Sigismondo d’India
Intenerite voi - Angelo Notari (1566-1663)
Quella che tanto - Bellerofonte Castaldi (1581-1649)
Folgori Giove - Galeazzo Sabbatini (1597-1662)
Emiliano Gonzalez Toro (tenor)
Zachary Wilder (tenor)
Ensemble I Gemelli
Recorded 6 to 10 January 2021 at La Seine Musicale, Studio RiffX 2, Boulogne (France)
GEFA001/01 1CD 









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