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Program: #09-48, Air Date: 11/23/09

Mala Punica's recent project looks at the rarely-recorded sacred vocal material from the 98 parchment folios arranged as the Codex Faenza (c.1380-1420). NOTE: Mala Punica's recent project looks at the rarely-recorded sacred vocal material from the 98 parchment folios arranged as the Codex Faenza (c.1380-1420). It is on the Ambriosie label.

Dave Lewis in the All Music Guide writes:

The Codex Faenza 117 in the Bibloteca Communale Manfredina is the oldest complete surviving manuscript of instrumental music in the world, started by a single scribe around 1380, but heavily recompiled between 1400 and 1420. In the early 1470s, yet another scribe scraped some of its pages clean and added yet more music, creating a "palimpsest"; a manuscript that has been recycled, yet contains traces of the information that went down before. A similar palimpsest containing otherwise unknown writings of ancient Greek inventor Archimedes elicited a great deal of public interest in the early twenty-first century, and it might surprise some readers that a similar situation exists in regard to certain medieval music manuscripts. In the case of the Codex Faenza, the erased sections represent music in an older style of intabulation than that shown in the replacements. While X-ray technology may reveal the intabulations, it takes scholars and musicians to transfer that information back into something that brings to life such historically distant music. Venetian early music group Mala Punica, led by Pedro Memelsdorff, presents on this Ambroisie release entitled Faventina all of the liturgical music from Codex Faenza 117, including the erased sections from the palimpsest not previously known. Although Codex Faenza has supplied pieces for many recorded collections of medieval music, some devoted only to its content, these have been heavily concentrated towards the many secular pieces in the manuscript -- the sacred ones are not nearly as familiar.

As the manuscript is overwhelmingly instrumental, texts had to be reclaimed through locating the same pieces in other sources, a long list of which are duly presented at the end of the track listing in the booklet. This package is responsible down to the smallest detail in providing direct access to the data to understanding what we are hearing down to listing the manuscript folio numbers for specific pages played; an admirable quality. Mala Punica also used the clavicymbalum, a medieval ancestor to the harpsichord that enjoys a tone quality not dissimilar to that of the Hungarian cimbalom, though it is hardly a common instrument even among early music ensembles owing to a total lack of extant museum instruments; the two in use here were rebuilt from designs drawn up in the 1480s.

• Ordinarium missae. 
• --Kyrie (Cunctipotens genitor Deus--"God, almighty Father")
• --Gloria 
• --Kyrie (Fons et origo--"Source and origin of eternal light")
• --Alleluja (Ego sum pastor bonus--"I am the good shepherd")
• --Kyrie (Orbis factor--"Creator of the universe")

• Cantasi come. 
• --Nostra avocata sei, cantasi come Deduto sei ("Thou art and ever wert our advocate") 
• --Per verità portare, cantasi come Non al suo amante ("To bring forth into the world, mighty Jesus was born")
• --Non al suo amante (instr.)

• Ad vesperas. 
• --Deus in adjutorium meum intende ("O God, make speed to save me")
• --Antiphona: Hec est regina, Laudate pueri Dominum ("This is the Queen of virgins")
• --Ave maris stella (instr.) 
• --Antiphona: Ave regina celorum ("Hail, O Queen of heaven")
• --Magnificat ("My soul doth magnify the Lord")
• --Sicut erat in principio, cantasi come Soventt mes pas ("As it was in the beginning") 
• --Benedicamus Domino, Deo gratias ("Thanks be to God")
• --Benedicamus Domino (instr.)
• --Benedicamus Domino (instr.) 


CD Info

CD #AM 105