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The composer best represented is Francesco da Milano (1497-1543), with some hundred
Fantasias and six Ricercares. The latter can be sampled in a high-spirited example that
exploits the instrument with delicious energy and verve
[listen -- track 6, 0:00-0:59].
Francesco's contapuntal skill, imaginative and sometimes wayward, is evident at the start
of a fine Fantasia that in fact occurs twice in the Siena Book
[listen -- track 22, 0:00-1:13].
Francesco had an enviable reputation in his lifetime, so that he was familiar with
the papal household and gave lessons to the grandson of Paul III, notable in English
history for having excommunicated Henry VIII. He was also in attendance when the Pope,
the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Francis I of France met at Nice in 1538 to resolve
differences. In the past Charles had more than once threatened Francis with single
combat. On this occasion a concordat was patched up and the French king was sufficiently
impressed by Francesco to offer him some sort of employment, so that he was known also
as Francesco da Parigi (of Paris).
Copyright © 2 January 2005
Robert Anderson, London UK