EL 012311 - Folias

Click to enlargeIt is the year 1625, it is carnival time. They are waiting for the arrival of Giovanni Paolo Foscarini, the supreme virtuoso of the chitarra battente. For some time now tales have been circulating about his extraordinary playing and his compositions, at times joyous and at times haunting, capable of touching even the most hostile hearts. A carriage drives up to the Palazzo, a man wrapped in a cloak turns up at the door and is accompanied to the music room; he carries a guitar. He sits down; he tunes his instrument and starts to play. In a few moments all those present are overcome by an unknown emotion; the chords follow one another spread over the bass line of the Follia di Spagna. That new way of playing has never been heard before and the long wait is instantly forgotten.

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EL 012312 - Cantar Lontano

Click to enlargeIn the course of a long career which would take him far and produce many memorable works (from the Sacri Concentus of 1612 to the Secondo Libro de Motetti a Voce sola, 1635), we cannot fail to recognise in Ignazio Donati one of the most innovative and mature composers of Italian church music in the early years of the seventeenth century. He exhibits an approach which is both experimental and popularising, displaying an attentive eye for the practical details of performance, a heightened awareness of the physical space as a primary element in the process of musicmaking and a desire to explore a wide range of tonal effects, while always remaining affectionately faithful to the text. However difficult it may be to reproduce the effect of voices singing in the distance, this recording manages to recreate the illusion of one of the most fascinating vocal practices that has ever existed.

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EL 032313 - Liquide perle

Click to enlargeA city on a distant hill represented freedom for Renzo in the Italian novel, The Betrothed. The city in question was Bergamo, in the proud territory of Veneto. There, Tramaglino hoped to put his endangered life beyond risk. And yet even the author of this classic tale, Alessandro Manzoni, was unaware that Giovanni Antonio Terzi, the prince of Italian lutenists, was alive and living in the city in the very period in which his story is set. Little evidence remains of the fact today, and little attention has been paid to his existence in the intervening years, yet Terzi was without doubt one of the best-known and the greatest Italian lutenists of the sixteenth century. The history of this excellent CD is mingled with that of a bizarre personality with a musical soul. A mysterious man, who came from and vanished into nowhere, contributed to the beauty of this production, leaving us a recording that leaves one totally speechless.

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EL 042314 - Tirsi morir volea

Click to enlarge“A man with a distinctive voice and unusual ability,” in spite of a highly impressive career, the Roman composer Felice Sances (c. 1600-1679) owes a large proportion of his fame to the fact that in the 1630s he was amongst the first to publish no less than four books of cantade, the term he used to describe a genre of compositions for one, two or three solo voices and basso continuo consisting of several sections with an alternation of recitative, arioso and aria, a form which was establishing its popularity in that very period. Listen to Tirsi morir volea, the famous text by Guarini set to music by Sances. Two lovers search together for a morte sì soave e sì gradita (such a sweet and welcome death), a death they will manage to attain together in the parody of a sensual and voluptuous embrace.

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EL 042315 - Notti di Modena

Click to enlargeSung or recited as a prayer of thanksgiving for the day drawing to an end and of entreaty for the night that follows, Vespers are one of the most ancient and evocative parts of the so-called “liturgy of the hours” or “office”, hence that daily cycle of prayers, created by monastic tradition, which all those belonging to religious communities were obliged to recite. The music for Giannettini’s Vespers on which this recording is based, are reproposed following a liturgical pattern suited to a Marian solemnity and with music in conformity with the customs of the times. These imposing but agile polychoral compositions return to us the magnificence of the court of Francesco II d’Este, a sovereign who showed great interest in music, also patronising performances of operas and oratorios.

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EL 002301 - Organo in concerto

Click to enlargeThe people of olden times considered the organ the king of all musical instruments and believed that from the very beginning it had been created to reproduce human sounds. Like human beings the organ had a mouth, breath, teeth and played by excellent musicians could speak and tell stories, enrapture and move. This was why more than any other it was the instrument capable of elevating human beings to heaven, having forever resounded in churches and cathedrals. With its countless sounds it could lift souls to contemplate God. We asked three great organists to perform on one of Italy’s most precious classical instruments, working the bellows by hand as in former times. They certainly provided their best performances for your pleasure.

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EL 002302 - Si dolce è il tormento

Click to enlargeThis CD is the recording of a concert held inside the Salone delle Feste in Urbino’s ducal palace. A very special concert, because for the first time in centuries live music resounded inside this palace once owned by Federico of Montefeltro. Among these pieces some were composed by court musician Bartolomeo Barbarino known as Il Pesarino, who often let his wonderful singing voice resound in this Palazzo. A live performance is never perfect, but it is by definition alive. The artists were not only required to sing and play impeccably, but also to warm with their performance the large audience crowded into these centuries-old walls in the freezing cold. The cold was soon replaced by the warmth of the performers, as you yourselves can hear.

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EL 052317 - Circundederunt me

Click to enlargeWhen, in June 1514, Ottaviano Petrucci sent his Missarum Josquin Liber Tertius to the press, Josquin had probably not yet written his Mass on the Hymn to the Holy Sacrament, or else there had not been time for the editor (who had taken such a large part in making Josquin’s work known) to include it in the publication. Indeed, the Mass was published only in 1539 by Johannes Ott in Nuremberg during that sort of Josquin “revival” which took place in German–speaking countries following Luther’s high praise of Josquin’s work. It is therefore more than probable that Pange Lingua Mass was Josquin’s last elaboration of the Ordinary of the Mass, based on the (still well-known today) hymn Pange lingua gloriosi written by St. Thomas Aquinas during that surge of religious devotion which followed the “Miracle of Bolsena” and led Pope Urban IV to institute the feast of Corpus Christi.

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EL 052316 - Languir me fault

Click to enlargeIn this day and age we demand that progress be continuous, with nothing to slow us down and no limits. Those magnificent “ progressive destinies “ that so disheartened Leopardi submerge us ,and we are starting to lose contact with those precious things of the past that gave such joy. Things like sitting around a table to sing and play, commenting on a piece of music and allowing it to become a vital part of our daily lives. This homely, friendly aspect of music is the central theme of this recording where we have described the course of a complete day, from darkness to darkness, almost as a metaphor for the life of man. In the sixteenth century, not only great musical masterpieces but also compositions of simpler derivation were made accessible to a wider public than in the previous century thanks to a widespread printing of books. The lute became enormously popular with thousands of musical excerpts printed and published in the whole of Europe.Venice, Nurnburg , Milan, Rome, Paris, Louven and many other cities saw a remarkable rise in printing houses devoted to music printing. Music circulated with unprecedented speed.

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