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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger



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Raphael: Music of his Time
Josquin DESPREZ (1446-1506)

In Pace
El grillo
Johannes GHISELIN (fl.early 16th century)

La Spagna
Johannes de STOKEM (c.1445-after 1501)

Je suis d’Allemagne – je suis trop jeunette
Guglielmo Ebreo da PESARO (c1425-after 1480) *

Falla con misuras
Alexander AGRICOLA (1446-1506)

Gaudeamus omnes
Domenico da PIACENZA

Ballo ‘La Giloxia
Antonio ALAMANNI (No date)

Carro della morte
Marchetto CARA (c.1470 -?1525)

Non e tempo
In questo ballo - Petits riens

Ave maris stella
Ave regina coelorum – O decus innocentie
Pavana ‘Le forze d’Hercole’ – Saltarello ‘Giorgio’
La pastorella
L’altr’ hier de la mia villa
In questo ballo
Paduana – Galliarda
Chiara Fontana – Laude e grazia – J’ay pris amours
* Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro and Giovanni Ambrosio are believed to be one and the same, though both names are found and are represented here,
Ensemble Unicorn – Singers and Instrumentalists: Agnes Boll (soprano); Pascal Bertin (counter-tenor); Bernd Lambauer (tenor); Colin Manson (baritone); Peter Rabanser (voice, tambourine); Marco Ambrosini (fiddle, keyed fiddle); Thomas Wimmer (fiddle, lute); Pierre Pitzl (renaissance guitar); Riccardo Delfino (renaissance harp, hurdy-gurdy); Katharina Dustmann (tambourine, frame drum); Wolfgang Reithofer (percussion); Michael Posch (director and recorder)
Rec. 5th-8th February 2002, Palais Gentz
NAXOS Art and Music 8.558119 [64.18]


This disc is part of the Naxos "Art and Music" collection which also includes music from the time of Rubens, Caravaggio and Leonardo, Degas, Monet and Turner. The discs are designed to explore the musical contexts of the artists’ works, giving the listener an insight into the culture in which each of them developed.

The discs in this series all come with beautifully illustrated booklets which do an admirable job of providing a lot of information in a small amount of space. The Raphael booklet, written by Hugh Griffith, contains a short account of the Italian political situation in Raphael’s time, an account of Raphael’s life as an artist set within significant aspects of the cultural activities surrounding him and a further discussion of various musical influences at work in his lifetime. This section is helpfully cross-referenced to the music on the disc and includes biographical notes about most of the named composers featured. The texts of the vocal items (in both their original languages and English translations) are provided and lastly, as befits the subject matter of the disc, good quality full colour representations of five of Raphael’s paintings are also included.

The music is performed by Michael Posch’s Ensemble Unicorn, a group consisting of an S.A.T.B. quartet (with a counter-tenor for the alto part) and eight instrumentalists, one of whom, Peter Rabanser, also sings. The instrumental playing is of uniformly high standard which certainly reflects the favourable reputation earned by this specialised and dedicated group throughout Europe. As someone who has performed a good deal of music from this period over nearly forty years though, I found some of the ensemble singing just a touch lack-lustre in places, sometimes giving a (perhaps unjustified) impression of the singers’ commitment the music. This judgment of course has something to do with personal preferences about performing style and having made it, I would want to add that I greatly enjoyed some of the singing by the quartet (or other combinations of the voices) and also that of Peter Rabanser. His credit lists him only as ‘voice and tambourine’ rather than specifying his vocal range, but he certainly sings with considerable gusto. Recording quality is good.

On first receipt of this disc (and the disc devoted to Degas which is reviewed elsewhere) I was sceptical about both its format and purpose. Having listened to it however and having read its excellent brochure carefully, I now think it both useful and informative. As someone who knows little about painting, I found the historical and musical contexts to Raphael’s work helpful to my appreciation of him. I imagine this could work equally well, the other way round.

Bill Kenny

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