Given the prevalence of war in the Europe of the Renaissance it is no real surprise that warlike themes and echoes of battles should find their ways into secular and civic music compositions – or even into religious ones (such as the many L’Homme armé and La Bataille masses of the time). With Di guerra e di pace, La Pifarescha captures the contrast between the roar and rhythms of battle and the celebrations of courtly and popular festivities as would have been performed by an alta cappella ensemble from the Middle Ages through to the dawn of the Baroque: shawms, slide trumpets and sackbuts, plus other wind instruments buttressed by percussion instruments.
The music of well-known composers from the period – Josquin, Isaac, Willaert, Phalèse, Susato and Senfl – is conjured up in virtuosic performances from this Italian ensemble, La Pifarescha, making its first appearance on Glossa (even if its members are regular instrumental contributors to performances and recordings by the likes of Cantica Symphonia or La Venexiana).
This modern journey, creating a Renaissance “soundtrack”, embraces not just war and peace but also the contrast of European and Arabic and Asiatic influences from the times of the Crusades through to civic bands playing for the residents in Renaissance Venice or Bologna. In creating this enjoyable and improvisation-filled entertainment the members of La Pifarescha wear their scholarly knowledge lightly as they play their way from the popular to the erudite and back.