Archive for Naive

Antonio Florio’s Cappella della Pietà de’ Turchini on Glossa

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on September 2, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

Rave all you want about Harmonia Mundi, I think the best early music label is Glossa. They have fantastic artists, interesting repertoire, superior engineering and gorgeous packaging. The artist roster is about to get better with the addition of the superb Naples-based Cappella della Pietà de’ Turchini. Their recordings of obscure Neapolitan baroque music were mainstays of the Naive label, but Naive stepped away from the Neapolitan project and decided to shift their energies to recording every note that Vivaldi wrote. That’s not a bad thing but I sure missed those Cappella della Pietà de’ Turchini recordings. Here’s the news.

To learn more about the Cappella della Pietà de’ Turchini, visit them at their website.

Here’s the ensemble in an excerpt from Cristoforo Caresana’s marvelous Christmas cantata

Best of 2009

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2009 by Craig Zeichner

Lots of early music recordings came my way in 2009. Here are my favorites for the year.

CD of the year

More Divine Than Human, Music from the Eton Choirbook
The Choir of Christ Church, Oxford
Stephen Darlington, director
(Avie Records)
This is how the Eton Choirbook was intended to be heard.

J. S.Bach: Orchestral Suites for a Young Prince
Ensemble Sonnerie
Monica Huggett, violin and director
(Avie Records)
Refreshing new takes on old favorites.

J. S. Bach: Preludi ai corali
Quartetto Italiano di Viole da Gamba; Tölzer Knabenchor
(Winter & Winter GmbH)
Gorgeous strings blending with treble choir.

G.F. Handel: Clori, Tirsi e Fileno
Roberta Invernizzi, Yetzabel Arias Fernández, sopranos; Romina Basso, alto
La Risonanza
Fabio Bonizzoni, director
(Glossa Music)
The newest release in the brilliantly performed complete Handel cantata series.

Nicola Popora: Arias
Karina Gauvin, soprano
Il Complesso Barocco
Alan Curtis, director
(ATMA Classique)
Perhaps this is the recording that finally puts Gauvin at the top of the soprano heap.

Salomone Rossi: The Song of Solomon and Instrumental Music
Profeti Della Quinta
Ensemble Muscadin
(Pan Classics)
It’s about time an ensemble finally made a truly excellent recording of Rossi’s sacred music.

Alessandro Scarlatti: Messa per il santissimo natale
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: Messa di s. emidio

Concerto Italiano
Rinaldo Alessandrini, director
Two major additions to the repertoire and nobody performs this music better than Alessandrini and crew.

Song of Songs
Stile Antico
(Harmonia Mundi)
All the buzz about Stile Antico is true—reminds of the records the Tallis Scholars used to make before all of their recordings started to sound the same.

Georg Philipp Telemann: Telemann and the Baroque Gypsies
Ensemble Caprice
Matthias Maute, recorder and director
Sensational performances by Maute and company in a lively program.

200 Years of Music at Versailles
Various artists
(Centre Musical de Baroque de Versailles)
A miraculous collection. Would have liked some music by the great clavecinists, but easily the greatest survey of the French Baroque available.

Vivaldi violin concertos you need to know

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2009 by Craig Zeichner

Vivaldi: Concerti per Le Solennità
Giuliano Carmignola, violin and conductor
Sonatori  de la Gioiosa Marca

It’s one of the great paradoxes that the recording industry is probably most responsible for boosting Antonio Vivaldi’s reputation while, at the same time, cutting it down. How? Pioneering record labels like Hyperion (the complete sacred music) and Naïve (the Vivaldi collection) have done tremendous service by resurrecting Vivaldi rarities. But the road to Hell is frequently paved with good intentions. Record labels have the habit of grouping all of the L’estro armonico or Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione concertos (12 in each collection) in neatly packaged 2-CD sets that result in some listeners smugly nodding in agreement with Igor Stravinsky’s bitchy comment that Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 400 times. Vivaldi’s concertos were published together but not intended to be performed in one serving. You wouldn’t eat an entire box of bonbons in one sitting would you? Why listen to 12 concertos in a row?

Stravinsky in Venice, he should have been dunked in a canal

This stunning recording by violinist conductor Giuliano Carmignola and Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca does tremendous service to Vivaldi by presenting six of his lesser-known violin concertos for solemn occasions. The solemn occasions were the various religious festivals celebrated between 1712 to 1735 in various churches in and around the Veneto. The concertos are filled with some of Vivaldi’s most innovative writing. There are two concertos for the Feast of the Assumption where Vivaldi splits the ensemble into two choirs, the only time the composer attempted this. There’s martial pomp in the “Grosso Mogul” concerto and a lovely pastoral tone in the concerto “per il Santo Natale.”

Carmignola, just the man to shut Stravinsky up

The performances of Carmignola are revelatory. More than Fabio Biondi or Andrew Manze or any baroque fiddler on the scene, Carmignola knows how to fire things up—check out the whispery fine bow work in the opening Allegro of the concerto “S. Antonio in Padua”—but also play sweetly—like in the poignant Grave of the D major Assumption concerto. Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca provide full-blooded but always sensitive accompaniment and the sound quality provided by the consistently excellent Divox engineers is audiophile quality.

September’s harvest

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2009 by Craig Zeichner

Here’s some new releases that have come my way




Consider the case of Anonymous, one of the most prolific of all creative artists. A poet, playwright, painter and composer, Anonymous has been published in dozens of volumes, Anonymous’ art has been displayed in museums (and on cave walls and the sides of subway trains) across the world. Anonymous is buried in cemeteries everywhere.

 The Anonymous this recording celebrates is the musical Anonymous, a composer who flourished in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance and who composed in many genres. Obviously we are not speaking of one composer but one of many who wrote some highly engaging music. If you put the witty conceit aside and take the recording at face value, what we have is a very well chosen compilation of early music drawn from over a dozen Naxos recordings. What makes this work is the sheer variety of musical styles. There’s lots of chant from the East and West, troubadour songs, selections from the Medieval Carmina Burana, English songs and consort music and… You name it and it is here. This kind of compilation might be too disjointed for early music purists who want to hear all of their Carmina Burana in one sequence; all of their consort music is one set, etc. No matter, it’s an interesting mix of repertoire and certainly works as a solid introduction to early music. 

 One small cavil – it would have been a bit more user-friendly if there was something that identified the original album from which each selection was drawn but there is only so much space in liner notes. Perhaps the somewhat cute at all costs liner notes could have been trimmed some? Rest assured though, musically this is a top-notch package. The performances are all outstanding and there is plenty of music on the two discs. Perhaps not the set for a detailed exploration of a particular genre, but it is ideal if you want to enjoy Medieval Times in your living room. Wait a minute; there were no CDs in Medieval Times…Get this one anyway!

singer pur

 Singer pur factor orbis
 (Ars Musici)

Here’s a real sleeper, a thirteen year old recording of Renaissance polyphony by Singer Pur, a German mixed voice ensemble comprised of singers who received their training as choristers at Regensburg Cathedral. The group’s name roughly translates to “singers neat” and I agree, I think they are pretty neat (although the name actually refers to clean vocal tone).

The ensemble has put together an interesting program of sacred music that spans the early to late Renaissance. Many of the usual suspects are here: Josquin, Lassus, Victoria and Byrd. But it’s the lesser-known composers who provide added value to this very well sung recording. I’ve sampled many recordings of polyphony over the years and must admit that I don’t recall ever encountering the music of Alexander Utendal (c. 1530/40-1581), Conrad Rupsch (c. 1475-1530) or Raniequin de Mol (late 15th century).

From the first notes of Victoria’s O Domine Jesu Christe that opens the recording, I was impressed by the ensemble’s smooth tonal quality (neat indeed). While they don’t have the bright top notes that marked the early recordings of the Tallis Scholars, they possess a beautifully blended sound with a firm bottom. There are some wonderful stand-outs: Verbum caro factum est, an expansive six-part Christmas motet by Senfl and Gallus’s Viri Sancti, a beautifully crafted double choir work. The works by the lesser-known composers I’ve mentioned before are all quite good. While there are some moments of rhythmic slackness, in Byrd’s In resurrectione tua for example, but not enough to spoil things.

There is something of a sonic haze over the recording that sometimes blurs individual voices but the overall production values are quite good with full texts and translations accompanying some decent liner notes.


Amour et Mascarade, Purcell & L’Italie

The opening paragraph of the liner notes made me flinch, “…the artistes of the Amarillis ensemble are all very young, and they play and sing with the dash and spirit of their youth…The works [by Purcell and Frescobaldi]…are known as it were in slow motion, rather cramped, without the brilliance that players under thirty can bring to bear on them.” These recordings were made in 1999 and trust me, there were plenty of energetic recordings of Purcell and Frescobaldi played with dash and spirit before Ensemble Amarillis appeared on the scene. That being said, this oddly programmed disc of some anonymous English dance tunes, canzone of Frescobaldi, vocal music of Purcell and a rarely-heard cantata by Francesco Mancini is mostly pleasing.

Soprano Patricia Pettibon and tenor Jean-François Noveli are the featured soloists in the vocal works and the instrumental ensemble comprised of (in various combinations) flûte à bec, oboe, low strings and harpsichord are featured in the Frescobaldi and English dances. I loved the blend of oboe (sounding here like a cornetto) and Pettibon’s high, bright voice in Purcell’s “Bid the Virtues.” Sure, I couldn’t understand a word Pettibon was singing but the tonal quality was gorgeous. However, the absolutely miserable English pronunciation of Pettibon and Noveli sink Purcell’s “Sound the Trumpet,” despite Pettibon’s delicious attempts to imitate the sound of a trumpet with a lovely trill. Pettibon delivers a glorious performance of Mancini’s cantata Quanto dolce è quell’ardore where she ornaments every line beautifully and even makes the recitative memorable, this is the high point of the program.

I mostly overcame my distaste for the flûte à bec (recorder to us vulgar Americans) in the Frescobaldi canzone, which were played with dexterity by Héloise Gaillard. The best moment in the Frescobaldi sequence was the lush and darkly rich cello playing of Ophélie Gaillard and tasteful accompaniment by harpsichordist Violaine Cochard. The English dances were charming and very well played. Speaking of English dances, I was surprised how closely the opening of “The second witches dance” resembled the “Popeye the Sailorman” song.  This is a pleasant recording which offers a glimpse of two artistes, Pettibon and Ophélie Gaillard, who have gone on to great careers in the world of early music.


Posted in Playlist with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2009 by Craig Zeichner

English violin concertos


English Classical Violin Concertos
Elizabeth Wallfisch
The Parley Of Instruments
Peter Holman








Manchicourt: Sacred Music, Volume I
The Choir of the Church of the Advent
Edith Ho








Mozart: Idomeneo
Croft, Fink, Im, Pendatchanska
Freiburger Barockorchester
René Jacobs
(Harmonia Mundi)







Schütz: Symphoniae Sacrae III
Cantus Cölln
Concerto Palatino
Konrad Junghänel
(Harmonia Mundi)








Vivaldi: Gloria
Sara Mingardo
Concerto Italiano
Rinaldo Alessandrini





Recordings by Karl Richter and the Munich Bach Orchestra were the Bach recordings that I enjoyed the most in the 70s. I was even fortunate to hear Richter  perform some Handel organ concertos at a Mostly Mozart Festival concert back in the day when tickets to the Festival were affordable. Here’s some Richter:

With the Munich Bach Orchestra in a Handel Organ Concerto:

And now for something completely different. Not historically informed Arne, but when it’s the magnificent Sarah Connolly singing who cares?