Everyday Music in Renaissance Italy
Life in the bustling cities of Renaissance Italy must have been an intense experience, full of constantly changing sights, sounds and odors: dancing, singing, street fairs, processions, and huge civic celebrations for important events. People of all classes were thrown together, and daily contact between the nobility and the common man was the norm. Not surprisingly, during this intense period of cultural exchange, very different levels of society often had surprisingly similar tastes in music. Home-grown Italian forms – Giustiniane, or frottole or improvised sung poetry – were considered equal to if not better than the intricate compositions of great Northern masters such as Josquin des Pres. And indeed, it’s easy to understand the mass appeal of the native repertoire: soaring melodies, sonorous harmonies, universal themes like unrequited love or the great exploits of legendary heroes, and dances that still swing after 500 years. These forms “trickled up” during the Renaissance, when the music of the common people had great influence on that of the nobles and rich merchants. Later, they would “trickle down,” so that, incredibly, you can still hear tales from Greek mythology and selections from the 16th century “Orlando Furioso” sung in Central Italy today, lovingly preserved by the tenant farmers, masons, school teachers, carpenters and postal workers who perform them in a style that hovers magically between singing and speaking: a precious glimpse into how this music might have been performed long ago.
7 Performers: Gloria Moretti, Anna Pia Capurso: voice; Avery Gosfield: recorders, pipe and tabor, Marco Ferrari: recorders, double flute, dulcian, Francis Biggi: cetra, colascione, lute, viola da mano, Massimiliano Dragoni: percussion, hammer dulcimer, Elisabetta Benfenati: Renaissance guitar (Oleguer Aymami Busque, viola da gamba).
The Lucidarium ensemble is a pleasure to hear. Their sensitive and subtle colors …and sparkling virtuosity animate the music in refreshing ways. Their two female singers express the texts by turns with delicacy, sadness, bravura, and beauty.
Catherine Moore, American Record Guide