Between about 1400 and 1550, musical life in Europe was dominated by five generations of musicians born and formed in a well-defined geographical area generally described by musicologists as franco-flemish. From this area emanated the overwhelming majority of the musical elite of the Renaissance – illustrious composers and musicians, recruited at great expense by wealthy patrons right across Europe. The southern part of this area, Picardy, was a rich pool of talented singers and composers. The cathedral and collegial churches of Amiens alongside the Picard church chapters pursued a general musical education for choirboys who, if they showed any natural musical talent, could become professional musicians, either in their churches or – greatest prize of all – by being recruited to the private chapels of the grandest of European rulers. With five composers from different generations, and of varying status, this programme of religious music conveys a relatively comprehensive survey of what 16th-century musical life in the churches of one of the most musically well-endowed French provinces might have been.
Since its debut in 1998, ODHECATON has won many prestigious prizes for its recordings, reflecting critical recognition of the group's having pioneered a new interpretative approach to the performance of polyphonic music: a fluid and expressive reading based on textual declamation. The name of the group is taken from the Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, the first printed book of polyphony published in 1501 by Ottaviano Petrucci in Venice. Their core repertoire encompasses the work of Italian, French, Flemish and Spanish composers of the 15th century. Directed by Paolo Da Col, Odhecaton brings together some of the best Italian male voices specialized in the performance of Renaissance and baroque music. The ensemble has made recordings dedicated to the music of Gombert, Isaac, Josquin, Peñalosa and Compère, and has helped rediscover the repertoire of 17th-century Spanish and Portuguese composers active in the Canary Islands. These programmes have seen Odhecaton being invited to appear in the leading European festivals, and won them important recognition in the world of recording: "Diapason d'or de l'année", "5 diapasons", "Choc" (Le Monde de la Musique), "Disco del mese" (Amadeus and CD Classics), and "CD of the Year" (Goldberg). Beyond its central repertoire, Odhecaton has also presented a semi-staged production of Orazio Vecchi's Amfiparnaso (directed by Enrico Bonavera, with scenery by Lele Luzzati), and a production of sacred music by Gesualdo da Venosa. Since 2008, Odhecaton has paid particular attention to the music of Palestrina. The group also works occasionally with instrumentalists specialized in their repertoire, including Bruce Dickey and Concerto Palatino, Gabriele Cassone, Liuwe Tamminga, Paolo Pandolfo, Jakob Lindberg and La Reverdie.
Paolo Da Col, direction
Alessandro Carmignani, Raoul Le Chenadec, Gianluigi Ghiringhelli, Renzo Bez, countertenors
Fabio Furnari, Paolo Fanciullacci, Vincenzo Di Donato, tenors
Marco Scavazza, baryton
Giovanni Dagnino, Enrico Bava, Marcello Vargetto, basses
PAOLO DA COL – singer, organist, conductor and musicologist – completed his studies in performance and musicology in Bologna. Since his youth interested in Renaissance and Baroque music, for more than twenty years he has been a member of various Italian vocal groups, including the Cappella di San Petronio of Bologna and Ensemble Istitutioni Harmoniche. Since 1998 he has directed Odhecaton, alongside leading various Baroque vocal and instrumental ensembles. He is professor at the conservatorium of Trieste and runs (with Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini) the magazine L'Organo, contributes as a music critic to many specialised magazines (including Giornale della Musica), oversees the catalogue of the Bolognese music publisher Arnaldo Forni, prepares editions of instrumental music, compiles catalogues of musical collections, and writes articles on the history of Renaissance and baroque vocal technique.