Back to the Middle Ages

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Program: #17-44, Air Date: 10/23/17

It’s been a while since we ventured back in time; this week, medieval Italy, Catalunya, and the importance of wine in Medieval times!

I. In Vinea Mea (Ensemble Chominciamento di Gioia). III Millennio CDCDA 0185.

Praised in profane poetry and honored in religious symbolism, prescribed in medicine and fundamental element of the economy, wine was a fundamental part of medieval culture. Already established in Mesopotamia in the 4th millennia BC, the wine culture arrived in Europe after having passed through Egypt, Greece and Spain. After having spread throughout the Mediterranean basin, grape vine cultivation slowed its growth during the crisis of the Roman Empire between the 3rd and 4th centuries AC due to political and economic disorders which caused security problems and thwarted long term agricultural activity. Consistent production was guaranteed by the church because of the necessity of having wine available at all times for liturgical rites. Wine brought into the Middle Ages the symbolic meanings which it had accumulated in the previous centuries. As a means of communication with the divinities and frequently present in rituals, it was fundamental in ancient Egyptian ceremonies where the grape was called “the eye of the god Horus”. In ancient religions wine was considered a gift of the gods given to man by Osiris for the Egyptians, by Bacchus/Dionysus for the Latins and the Greeks, by Saturn for the italic peoples and by Noah for the Jews, while the Etruscans considered Voltumna the deity who protected the vines. This drink which promoted life and immortality was present in funeral commemorations and banquets and was spread o­n the tombs during the so-called libation. The music on this release is dedicated to that ever-famous drink.

 

In taberna quando sumus, CB 196
On parole / A Paris / Frese nouvele, motet (Codex Montpellier)
O Divina virgo flore, devotional song (Laudario di Cortona)
Cantiga de Santa María 351, A que Deus avondou tanto que quiso dela nacer
Felix vitis (Ms I-Pa 2785 sec. XIV)
Cantiga de Santa María 161, Poder á Santa María, a Sennor de piadade
Dum pater familias, chant de pèlerins
Ges de Disnar No For' Oimais Maitis
Vinum bonum et suave, motet for 8 voices, M. vii (S. xxi/91)
Procurans odium, CB 12
Sacerdos in aeternum Christus, antiphon
Cantiga de Santa María 73, Ben pod' as cousas feas fremosas tornar
L'altrier cuidai aber druda, motet
Alte clamat Epicurus, CB 211
Bon vin doit conduit (Le Roman de Fauvel)
Cantiga de Santa María 23, Como Deus fez vyo d'agua ant' Archetecryo
Deficiente vino (Ms I-Pa 2788 sec. XIV)
Bacche, bene venies, CB 200

II. Con Voce Quasi Humana (Ensemble Pelaro/Lorenza Donadini). Raum Klang CDRK 3501.

“Con voce quasi humana” presents a panoramic view of the secular music of the Trecento, from the earliest surviving anonymous pieces from the Rossi codex, and those by the first musicians whose actual names we know (Piero, Giovanni da Cascia, and Jacopo da Bologna), via the florid style of some of the best-known Florentine maestri (Francesco Landini), to the rapid decay of this culture in the early Quattrocento. The majority of pieces recorded here come from what is arguably the most important and lavishly executed collection of Trecento music – the famous Squarcialupi codex, now preserved in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana. A special aspect of this recording by the Perlaro Ensemble lies in the all-vocal interpretation of the Trecento pieces. Through this approach, a clarity of pronunciation and phrasing is attained that to a certain extent makes it easier to hear all the “voices” within the various compositional styles and genres, such as madrigals, ballatas, and caccias. On the other hand, the title, “con voce quasi humana” (with a quasi-human voice) also represents human voices in the form of conversations in the song texts. Moreover, this recording focuses on songs about singing, songs that carry the listener away to an ideal place, putting him/her into the poet’s mood. It is up to each person to decide whether the songs seduce or cause torment, or whether they give the listener happiness with their enchanting beauty.

1
Per seguir la sperança che m'andice (Ballade)
2
O crudel donna, o falsa mia serena (Madrigal)
3
I'senti già come l'arco d'amore (Madrigal)
4
Donna già fu' leggiadr' annamorata (Madrigal)
5
Per non far lieto alcun de la mia doglia (Ballade)
6
In verde prat'a padiglion tenduti (Madrigal)
7
Tal mi fa guerra che mi mostra pace (Madrigal)
8
Per un verde boschetto (Ballade)
9
Que sole che nutrica'l gentil fiore (Madrigal)
10
De! Dimmi tu che se' così fregiato (Madrigal-Caccia)
11
Che tu çova nascondere'l bel volto (Ballade)
12
Nessun ponga spreança (Ballade)
13
O zentil madona mia (Ballade)
14
A poste messe veltri e gran mastini (Caccia)
15
Donna, se per te moro (Ballade)
16
Ricorditi di me, madonna mia (Ballade)
17
Con dolce brama e con gran disio (Madrigal-Caccia)

 

III. El Cant de la Sibella (Ensemble San Felice/Federico Bardazzi). Brilliant CD95481.

Image result for El Cant dela Sibella (Ensemble San Felice

Who were the pilgrims who climbed the treacherously steep mountain to the monastery of Montserrat in northern Spain? And what kind of music would have accompanied their journey? This release imagines Christmas Eve in medieval Catalonia, built around the 'song of the Sibyl'. The tradition of the singing Sibyl was not unique to Montserrat, but it was covertly practiced there long after it had been outlawed by the Council of Trent in 1575. The Sibyl was a pre-Christian woman who prophesied the coming of Christ; during the Middle Ages, a boy would dress up as the Sibyl and, blindfolded, sing the famous verses, normally in the third nocturn of the Christmas Day matins service. This recording uses the Catalan version of the Sibyl's song found in the archives of Barcelona Cathedral. Another Catalan book from the same period, the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, also informs much of this programme. It would have provided pilgrims with suitably religious music to sing on their approach to the cathedral, rather than secular songs and dances. The additional use of Gregorian chant sets the Cant de la Sibil·la in its original context of the early morning matins, before these were standardised into the Office of Readings. Finally, the addition of a traditional secular Catalan song – which tells the story of the doomed Count Arnau – marks the period in the night when the pious pilgrims, eagerly awaiting the opening of the monastery, would give the floor over to storytellers.

This album is the result of a unique project involving professional and amateur artists. The project was premiered as the first concert of a new annual festival in Florence run by Federico Bardazzi and Alessandra Montali, 'InCanto Armonico'. Established group Ensemble San Felice, who, under Bardazzi's direction, have previously made several successful CDs, were paired with the children's choir of the Cathedral of Sarzana, Pueri Cantores, who make up the 'voci bianche'. Featuring young soprano soloist Chiara Galioto, and performed on period instruments, this recording provides the listener with an enchanting aural portrayal of medieval Catalonia.

1
Polorum Regina
2
Los set goyts
3
Maria Matrem Virginem
4
Stella splendens
5
Imperayritz de la ciudad joyosa
6
El comte Arnau
7
Ad mortem festinamus
8
Laudemus Virginem – Splendens ceptigera
9
Antiphona: Christus natus est nobis – Psalmus 94/95 (Invitatory): Venite exultemus Domino
10
Benedictio – Lectio – De homilia Sancti Augustini
11
Responsorium: Verbum caro factum est
12
Benedictio – Lectio – Sermo Sancti Augustini in die Natalis Domini
13
El cant de la Sibilla
14
O Virgo splendens
15
Cuncti simus concanentes

 

CD Info

III Millennio CDCDA 0185, CDRK 3501, Brilliant CD95481