Review by Lute February 3, 2013 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
|A medieval banquet of sounds & sensations is what awaits the listener in this LIVE recording of the Italian group, Micrologus. Like the wandering minstels & troubadours of old, they give impassioned performances of the secular works of various composers from the medieval and renaissance eras. No Gregorian Chants here. This is exotic stuff...full of sugar and spice.
Here is a sample from O BAG-PIPE, SWEET LITTLE BAG-PIPE...
Hey you, hiding Brother Dick there below,
smooth and shiny like a tonsured head,
let's get your hammer swinging;
embrace me, squeeze me, kiss me quick,
there's none better looking than me around here,
O bag-pipe, sweet little bag-pipe...
Thought music from the renaissance music was just for church?? Well, think again. These were real people with real needs & desires...just like you and me. But, don't worry the music here has a PG rating. Anyway, we are adults here, right? And the purpose of this music is not to be vulgar but rather to celebrate love & romance.
Along with well-known composers such as Giullaume Dufay and Josquin des Prez, Micrologus endulge us with a variety of songs and instrumental music by Zacara da Teramo, Domenico da Piacenza, Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro, and Giovanni Ambrosio Dalza. The thrust of Micrologus's concert program is to highlight the influence that the northern composers of the Franco-Flemish school had on Italy after the flowering of the ars nova in the 14th century. Until that time, the practice in Italy was to play from memory and improvise. Many works were lost by this practice. On the other hand, the northern composers meticulously wrote things down in beautiful manuscripts. Thus, music could be shared more accurately.
The Italian courts invited important composers from around Europe, like Dufay and Josquin des Prez. Their "new" style was fashionable in Italy...(much like foreign goods are trendy for us today.) Their northern style was married to the sound of the Italian language. All was not intellectual music... Of equal if not greater importance was dance music. Guglielmo Ebreo, a dance master, was just as influencial as his now more famous contemporaries, due to his fundamental treatise on dance. Along with composing, he choreographed the popular music of the day.
Ensemble Micrologus captures the spirit of this era with zest and honesty. Formed in Italy in 1984, they specialize in medieval music...from the 12th to 16th centuries. Don't be fooled by their folksy sound... Their skill & artistry are second to none. But for me...it's their arrangements & instrumentation that are so wonderfully intoxicating. At times a song will start simply a cappella... then, gradually the strings, drums, winds and other instruments will join in and everything will build up into a driving beat...a sensory overload of bagpipes, percussion, and hurdy-gurdy... It feels as if we are on a journey somewhere along the Silk Road with many exotic sights, sounds and smells.
The Micrologus members and their respective instruments on this recording are:
Patrizia Bovi: vocal & harp
Adolfo Broegg: lute / vihuela
Gabriele Russo: viola / viola da gamba / cornamusa (bagpipe)
Goffredo Degli Esposti: pipe & tabor (zufolo) / piva (bagpipe)
Gabirele Miracle: psaltery / tambourine / castanets
Maurio Borgioni: vocal
Simone Sorini: vocal
Ulrich Pfeifer: vocal & hurdy-gurdy
Although the live recording is less focused than a proper studio one, I see no reason to hold back on giving the full 5-star rating for sound. Yes, this is a LIVE recording with some noise from the audience. However; there are only a couple unobtrusive coughs between songs. Apart from that, we only hear the applause from the audience. The focus of the voices is mostly on the front speakers, but the rear speakers are also given quite a lot of music to handle. And we are presented with a well-balanced surround-sound recording of a LIVE performance. The recording took place in September 2005 at the "Italia Mia" festival at Herkulessaal, Liechtenstein museum in Vienna, Austria. 2-channel sound is excellent, too.
The nice booklet contains a short essay about the concert's program by Micrologus member, Adolfo Broegg. It is in Italian, German, and English. The songs' Italian lyrics are included, as are German and English translations. I would love to have seen more photos, for example of the concert venue and performers. But all and all, this is an exciting medieval jam session. Great fun!!
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