Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:

  41:4 (03-04 /2018)
Pour s'abonner / Subscription information
Les abonnés à Fanfare Magazine ont accès aux archives du magazine sur internet.
Subscribers to Fanfare Magazine have access to the archives of the magazine on the net.


Code-barres / Barcode : 691062052924 (ID629)

Strongly recommended

Outil de traduction ~ (Très approximatif)
Translator tool (Very approximate)

Reviewer: Barry Brenesal

When I requested this album for review, I assumed its 14th-century selections, both Italian and French, would pursue a close trajectory around Cicero’s famous “O tempora, o mores.” In other words, it would emphasize texts that railed at the morals of the day, in comparison to those of the past. But the liner notes play fast and loose with the word “moralizing,” so that it means anything from decrying the current state of music in Landini’s Musicha son, to moaning about personal bad luck in the anonymous Va, Fortune, to Zacara’s caccia, Cacciando per gustar, a “cries of the marketplace” piece set in Rome—identical in structure (save for a satirical introduction) to Janequin’s Les cris de Paris and Gibbons’s delightfully crude The Cries of London. Of the three pieces mentioned on this album, only the Landini qualifies as a moralizing song.

Set aside the program, however, as well as references to the Squarcialupi Codex (since a number of selections on this album aren’t drawn from it), and we end up with an attractively varied group of selections that display this vocal ensemble’s talents well. Quite a few can be found on other discs—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it can help illustrate the textural and expressive diversity possible in these works, given how thoroughly performers were expected to contribute to the creation of each composition. So the Orlando Consort, on its album Food, Wine and Song (Harmonia Mundi 907314), downplay Cacciando per gustar’s tongue-in-cheek, mock-serious opening pages, while the Sollazzo Ensemble take the passage more slowly and give its vocals an air of pretentious solemnity.

This kind of expressive “face” is not typical of vocal ensembles in early music, but it often proves the case, here. Strong accenting and sharply curtailed phrase endings cleverly provide the musical equivalent of spitting anger in Andrea da Firenze’s Dal traditor. The keening melismatic phrases of Va, Fortune, are broken by a breathy, half-exploded “Da mort, m’atent, las!” (Death is waiting for me, alas!) Given how reticently most of this music is usually sung, I find an attempt to give it greater expression welcome, even if very occasionally the group’s singers go overboard—as in a couple of sharply nasal moments in Solage’s Le basile, rendered opaque by the tenor’s poor enunciation. Poor enunciation isn’t a problem in most of the sung selections here, and the two sopranos boast both attractively bright tone and excellent agility, from which both Dal traditor and O pensieri vani benefit.

Sollazzo Ensemble features three singers and three instrumentalists, the latter playing harp and vielles. Two non-vocal selections are included, in which they give a good accounting of themselves, with stylishly ornamented divisions in Hont paur and Ciconia’s popular Ligiadra donna. The sound is close and well balanced, allowing singers and instrumentalists to make as vibrant an effect as the ensemble clearly aims to achieve. My only serious complaint is this release’s truly poor timings. At 13 cuts totally 46:01, it would have been considered average back in the LP era; but with CDs averaging between 60 and 80 minutes today, this really detracts from its value. That noted, this is a fine antidote to albums that are performed without any attempt to dramatically shape the line without musically upsetting it. Strongly recommended.

Fermer la fenêtre/Close window

Sélectionnez votre pays et votre devise en accédant au site de
Presto Classical
(Bouton en haut à droite)

Pour acheter l'album
ou le télécharger

To purchase the CD
or to download it

Choose your country and curency
when reaching
Presto Classical
(Upper right corner of the page)

Cliquez l'un ou l'autre bouton pour découvrir bien d'autres critiques de CD
 Click either button for many other reviews