Co-production Casa Musicale / Festivoce / K617 / created in 2011 for l’Année du Mexique en France
Although Hombres de Maiz is a term that Latin American peasants have used to describe themselves since time immemorial, it could just as well be applied to the polenta-eating young men who came to Mexico from Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries. The sailors, peasants and friars who sailed the seas in search of fortune brought their dances, ostinati and songs with them. The familiar sounds probably helped to lift their spirits and keep homesickness at bay. It was the pop music of the era, and they played it on anything they could carry: harps, guitars, recorders, violins, drums, pipe and tabor. These sprightly tunes and simple harmonic patterns, as well as the European instruments, were quickly adopted by the native population, blending with the local styles and repertoires. Incredibly, even today, traditional repertoires from Mexico and Italy are often remarkably alike, and many have kept tunes, harmonic structures and names that date back to the Italian Renaissance. Here, Ensemble Lucidarium combines traditional Italian songs and dances with their 16th and 17th century models – Bergamasca, Ciascona, Mattacin – while Barbara Ceron Olvera, a bright new star on the early music scene, goes back to her roots, performing the powerful and touching music of her native Veracruz in a joyful musical melting-pot that preserves ancient sonorities while remaining surprisingly close to modern sensibility.
8 Performers: Barbara Ceron: voice, Veracruz Harp, Renaissance Harp; Gloria Moretti, Marie Pierre Duceau: voice; Bettina Ruchti: vielle, violin; Avery Gosfield: recorder, pipe and tabor, Marco Ferrari: recorder, clarinet, bagpipe; Francis Biggi: guitar, lute, viola da mano; Massimiliano Dragoni: hammer dulcimer, percussion
Henry Lebedinsky, Fanfare Magazine:
The sound is clear, close, and honest, and contributes to the illusion of a live concert performance. This album is meticulously researched, well conceived, and expertly presented. The liner notes by Francis Biggi lay out the concept behind the program in just enough detail. It achieves what, in my opinion, too many recordings of Medieval and Renaissance music do not, presenting an engaging and thoughtful concept in an elegant and entertaining way. Lucidarium captures the vibe of a concert on this disc. It is not an aural catalog of ancient and obscure repertoire, but a living, dancing presence. This disc is one of the few that I’ve heard recently that makes me want to jump up and dance—and hear this ensemble live in concert as soon as possible. Kudos.
Arianna Crawford, American Record Guide:
This is a spectacular program: lively and extremely enjoyable. I highly recommend that you pick it up, put it on, and enjoy it.