CANTICO DELLA TERRA
The sacred and popular in 13th century Italy.
Quartetto Vocale Giovanna
Opus111 OPS30-277 61m
Rather like Hyperion's 'English Songbook', this collection could be named,
'Italian Songbook', in fact it goes deep into 13th century folklore retrieving
elements of song that have been long forgotten. There are 18 pieces recorded
here, some with accompanying instrumentation, others naked of accompaniment
but all feature distinctive folkoristic elements and dialects that really
test the mettle of Giovanna Marini's Quartetto Vocale. Not that there seem
to be any problems with their delivery which is at times stunningly faithful
and ravishingly virtuosic, they made this listener gape in awe on several
occasions! The songs come from various regions including Sicily, Campania,
Calabria, Lazio and Sardegna, but it is apparent that the culture was heavily
active in the southern parts of the country. In Malta we have similar vocal
trends that have been forgotten over the ages and are also being revived.
It is a pity that with the pace of progress most native elements are being
neglected especially in the southern Mediterranean which is an area intrinsically
rich and brimming with unique cultural influences. This disc, sumptuously
recorded and professionally executed may move some way to redress the balance.
Gerald Fenech will also review 'Etnika', a CD that revives traditional
Maltese folkloristic instruments shortly in these pages.