Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:

Fanfare Magazine: 39:5 (05-06/2016) 
Pour s'abonner / Subscription information
Les abonnés à Fanfare Magazine ont accès aux archives du magazine sur internet.
Subscribers to Fanfare Magazine have access to the archives of the magazine on the net.

Sono Luminus

  Code-barres / Barcode : 0053479219527


Outil de traduction ~ (Très approximatif)
Translator tool (Very approximate)

Reviewer: Barry Brenesal


This album’s genesis, according to Richard Savino, came about upon visiting relations in Rome. He witnessed a sparsely attended concert of 17th-century music from the Italian States, and saw huge lines braving the August sun to see a Caravaggio exhibit. This led him to wonder why “painters can inspire such appreciation of their art, while composers of equal gifts and attainments, contemporaries and even colleagues in the same city … can hardly fill a small concert hall?” My personal conclusion—all elements of contrasting venue, advertising, and name recognition aside—is that “realistic” imagery is almost immediately perceived and understood by the brain, while sophisticated audio requires a much greater temporal span, and in the case of classical music, goes against the grain of modern cultural conditioning that views it as boring and pretentious. That wasn’t what Savino concluded, however. His take away was that getting people to listen to audio today requires images, since their appreciation for music derives from music videos. So, if we’re shown images of 17th-century Italian paintings by Artemisia Gentileschi while hearing music composed in various cities where she worked—even though there’s no connection between the composers and the painter—this will form a successful program that really draws us in.

It’s a convenient hook to hang a lot of fine music on, if you can overlook the implied insult to our collective intelligence. The album is divided into five main sections, not counting brief prologues and epilogues. There are seven pieces related to Rome, four to Florence, Venice, and Naples a piece, and three to London. Though a range of years are listed for each grouping, they refer to Gentileschi’s travels, and have no discernable relation to the music in each group. Indeed, it’s highly unlikely the painter could have heard Corbetta’s Sinfonia a due while in Venice during the 1620s, since the composer was only 15 years old at the end of that period, and the work in question was composed much later. Savino reveals a shrewd hand in the way he largely alternates orchestral music for the plucked, strummed, and bowed instruments in El Mundo, with as many selections featuring one of his four singers. There are no surprises either from choice of composer or music, though Nicholas Lanier, the first Master of the King’s Music, is something of an outlier by his origins, if not his influences—which were solidly Italian, seconda pratica, after several trips there to make extensive artwork purchases for the spendthrift Charles I. (Some measure of that monarch’s enormous money sink of a collection can be gathered from the parliamentary act announcing the sale “of the late king’s goods,” which included roughly 2000 paintings and other artistic media.)

The performances by El Mundo are exuberant, expressive, and occasionally ragged, with the rare dropped note among the strings, or lack of blend and balance from the singers as a group in Kapsberger’s L’onda che limpida, Giramo’s Festa Riso, and Luigi Rossi’s Fan battaglia. Without meaning to second guess Savino, I suspect he values perfection less than direct emotional communication, and there’s certainly plenty of the latter. Three of his four singers receive repeated solos.

The continuo, who accompany the pair of violinists and four singers, number seven in all, with an emphasis on guitar, as well as theorbo, hard, and keyboard. A few of them receive a spotlight of their own: Savino himself on theorbo in a toccata by Piccinini, Corey Jamason on organ in a canzona by Frescobaldi, and both guitarist Paul Psarras and harpist Cheryl Ann Fulton in Kapsberger’s Capona. For the rest, Adam LaMotte is a fine violinist in one of Castello’s stile moderno sonatas, with fine tone, flexible phrasing, alive to the work’s important theatrical dimension. Of the three singers who receive solos, Nell Snaidas has the most secure voice, evincing great beauty of tone, and capable (though not called for much in this music) of considerable feats of agility. Jennifer Ellis Kampani’s narrow column of sound, with its alternating fast and drained vibrato, may be an acquired taste for some, but she uses it in Francesca Caccini’s Lasciatemi qui solo with discernment and refinement. Céline Ricci, whom I liked in Terradellas’s Artaserse (RCOC Records 0800), is still capable of handling figurations with ease and accuracy, but for some reason seems to prefer sketching notes within a musical phrase, between a secure start and conclusion. Perhaps she was told it sounds less professionally studied to do so. If so, that wasn’t a good idea.

The sound is very well balanced, with good, forward placing of all musicians, in an acoustic that’s clean without over-indulging resonance. While I have my reservations about Ricci, overall this is a fine disc with some memorable performances; recommended.


Fermer la fenêtre/Close window


Cliquez l'un ou l'autre bouton pour découvrir bien d'autres critiques de CD
 Click either button for many other reviews