21 Apr 2017

Lucrezia Borgia’s Daughter

Lucrezia Borgia’s Daughter’ 
Princess, Nun and Musician: Motets from a 16th Century Convent’ 
attrib d’Este Musica quinque vocum motteta materna lingua vocata Musica Secreta; 
Celestial Sirens / Laurie Stras, Deborah Roberts Obsidian F CD717 (72’ • DDD • T/t)

[...] 


The progressive nature of these motets will surprise and delight lovers of 16th-century music. Written for equal voices, they are contained within a twooctave compass promoting a rich, sonorous texture. Such textures are beautiful and supple in the hands of Musica Secreta, whose singers include leading voices of Renaissance music: Deborah Roberts, Sally Dunkley and Caroline Trevor. They are cushioned by the warm embrace of an organ and underpinned with a sinewy viol to provide a firm polyphonic meld. 
[...]

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (May 2007)

20 Apr 2017

MUSICAL CONNECTIONS: Ten early madrigals

Ten early madrigals

Madrigals ancient and modern launch a pair of parallel century-hopping musical journeys.

Les Arts Florissants' 2016 Gramophone award-winning Monteverdi album inspired our two journeys.

A journey through Italian madrigals reveals a slow transformation from introverted, reflective styles to declamatory, quasi-operatic scenes. The intimate ‘barbershop’ sound of The King’s Singers suits early works particularly well, especially Arcadelt’s subtly erotic setting of a swan song. This sense of intimacy is transformed by the young Monteverdi’s almost claustrophobic Baci soave, e cari in which Les Arts Florissants bristle with energy responding to the delicate combination of text and dissonance. [...]


  • Arcadelt Il bianco e dolce cigno King’s Singers Warner 
  • Monteverdi Baci soave, e cari Les Arts Florissants LAF 
  • Marenzio Solo e pensoso Huelgas Ens Sony Classical 
  • Gesualdo Io parto… Compagnie del Madrigale Glossa 
  • Monteverdi Sfogava co… Voces Suaves Ambronay 
  • Monteverdi Cruda Amarilli Concerto Italiano Naïve 
  • Monteverdi Lamento d’Arianna Consort of Musicke Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 
  • Monteverdi Lettera amorosa Figueras Alia Vox 
  • Monteverdi Lettera amorosa Berberian Wergo 
  • Monteverdi Il combattimento Villazón Erato
To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (May 2007)

12 Apr 2017

Book review: Well-tempered woodwinds

Well-tempered woodwinds: Friedrich von Huene and the making of early music in a new world Geoffrey Burgess
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015), $45
Reviewed by Edward Breen in Early Music (2016) 44 (4): 647-649.
Published:10 February 2017

For the early music movement this is a decade infused with self-reflection. It is over 40 years since the boom of the early 1970s, and many pioneering performers are celebrating long careers that started in small counter-cultural settings and have led to mainstream concert success and global record sales. So it is only natural that we might be interested in how we got where we are, as well as asking where we are going next.

As a contribution to early music nostalgia, this book is much more than a simple biography of Friedrich von Huene, one of the world’s leading historical woodwind-makers; it also investigates his research and influence upon performance. Through this prism it offers both a cultural history of the early music movement in America and its connections to European practice, and a history of modern...


To read the full text of this review, please visit Early Music. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/em/caw101

31 Mar 2017

Divine Theatre


Divine Theatre: Motets by Giaches de Wert
Stile Antico
Harmonia Mundi HMM807620


[...] The astonishingly vivid Ascendente Jesu in naviculam, which tells of Jesus and his disciples at sea in a storm, probably best showcases Stile Antico’s extrovert potential. Alongside this, a magnificent, if rather statuesque performance of Vox in Rama offers a refined and sonorous approach characterised by the slow, soporific atmospheres that Stile Antico often favour in continental polyphony. It is testament to Wert’s emotional immediacy that this album is one of their most engaging recordings: polyphony to grab one’s attention rather than to carpet a devotional daydream.


To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (April 2007)

30 Mar 2017

Monteverdi Madrigali Volume 3: Venezia

Monteverdi Madrigali Volume 3: Venezia
Les Arts Florissants / Paul Agnew Harmonia Mundi F HAF890 5 278


[...] Take, for instance, the little-recorded Al lume de le stelle where rising vocal phrases unfurl and look towards the stars as Tirsi is reminded of the glint in his lover’s eyes. The phrasing is incredibly spacious and even at its slowest, text is always the driving force to the extent that one can almost taste it. In the solo madrigals, Miriam Allan’s sublime singing in Con che soavità is delicately imbued with a knowing glint.  [...]

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (April 2007)

24 Feb 2017

Petrus Wilhelmi de Grudencz

‘Petrus Wilhelmi de Grudencz’ 
‘Fifteenth-Century Music from Central Europe’ 

La Morra / Corina Marti, Michał Gondko 
Glossa F GCD922515

[...] Fittingly, one of the finest performances on this disc is of the motet that first yielded Petrus Wilhelmi’s name. In an all-vocal performance, Petrus’s textures are rich, sonorous and rather old-fashioned for their time. Kyrie: Fons bonitatis shows Petrus in a more ‘modern’ guise and the singers at their most sumptuous.

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (March2017)

28 Jan 2017

Madrigali Diminuiti


Verdelot / Ganassi - Madrigali Diminuiti
Doulce Mémoire
Clara Coutouly, soprano
Pascale Boquet, lute
Bérengère Sardin, harp
Sébastien Wonner, spinet, clavicytherium
Denis Raisin Dadre, recorders and direction


[...]
Having established the superiority of the voice it is fitting that soprano Clara Coutouly sings so engagingly throughout this programme. Her warm tone has a beauty and bloom that infuses even the most mournful of texts with a plethora of subtle hues. In Verdelot’s Ardenti miei sospiri for example, she leans into those soft onomatopoeic sighs with heart-rending subtly.
[...]

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (February 2017)

22 Jan 2017

30-Second Classical Music

30-Second Classical Music: The 50 most significant genres, composers and innovations, each explained in half a minute
Ivy Press ISBN-10: 1782404252

Editor: Joanne Cormac
Foreword: David Pickard
Contributors: Robert Adlington, Edward Breen, Joanne Cormac, George Hall, Katy Hamilton, Kenneth Hamilton, Monika Hennemann, Elizabeth Kelly, Emily MacGregor, Simon Paterson, Owen Rees, Hugo Shirley and Alexandra Wilson.
Illustrations: Nicky Ackland-Snow 

[...] Hildegard believed her visions came directly from God, but writing in his 1985 book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, neurologist Dr Oliver Sacks noted the similarity of Hildegard’s visions to experiences of severe migraine sufferers. In her two surviving codices Hildegard’s illustrations of her visions show brightly coloured gures radiating from a central point with prominent points of light, all consistent with current medical understanding of migraines. [...]
 
 Available from Amazon (March 2017). To pre-order click here.

6 Jan 2017

Gombert: Motets II


BEAUTY FARM (Bart Uvyn [countertenor], Florian Schmitt [tenor], Adriaan De Koster [tenor], Hannes Wagner [tenor], Christoph Drescher [bariton]) Joachim Höchbauer [bass]
Fra Bernardo FB 1612457

This double album of motets by Nicolas Gombert (c.1495-1560) from vocal ensemble, Beauty Farm is their second release offering several more debut recordings and adding considerably to our picture of this intriguing renaissance composer.

[...]
Yet there is so much to enjoy on this album, especially from the spicy harmonic twists of Hortus Conclusus, previously recorded at higher pitch by The Brabant Ensemble (CDA67614). This track demonstrates what is rapidly becoming the trademark style of Beauty Farm: an extremely rich, treacley sound from lower voices whose carefully cultivated homogeneity sublimates dissonance. To this end, there is a superb rendition of Media Vita which alone is worth the album price.

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (January 2017)