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Figs, Fiddles and fine play – a musical taste of the 14th century
ALFONSO X (c.1280)
Quen polo amor (Cantiga de Santa Maria, nr 203) [3:13]
Muito faz grand’ero (CSM 209) [2:56]
ANONYMOUS (c.1350)
Sia laudato san Francesco [4:11]
ANONYMOUS (c.1380)
Istampitta Ghaetta [4:25]
ALFONSO X (c.1280)
Como Deus fez (CSM 23) / A Virgen (CSM 8) [3:59]
Guillaume de MACHAUT (1300-1377)
Je vivroie liement [3:30]
Liement me deport [2.12]
Dame, a vous sans retollir, Danse Real [3.53]
Francesco LANDINI (1325-1397)
Ne la piu cara parte [2.02]
ANONYMOUS (c.1280)
Questa fanciulla amour [2.48]
ALFONSO X (c.1280)
Laudar vollio per amore [5.54]
Prijon forte (CSM 106) / Tan beeyta (Cantiga de Fiestras nr 5) [2.38]
Ali u a pedanca [4.07]
En a que Deus [3.01]
Falsobordone: Erik Ask-Upmark (harp, bagpipes, organetto, voice), Anna Rynefors (rebec, bagpipes, harp, percussion, voice), Sven Jansson (percussion), Stefan Wikstrom (trombone), Karin Strinnholm Lagergren (voice), Anders Adin (hurdy-gurdy, lute), Goran Hallmarken (hurdy-gurdy, percussion)
rec. Bosarps Kyrka, 8-10 March 2003. DDD



This disc from the Swedish mediaeval band, Falsobordone, presents a selection of songs and dances from mediaeval Europe. These would have been performed at feasts. Comprising fairly familiar works, it includes music form composers as well known as Alfonso X and de Machaut, as well as anonymous compositions. The disc insert includes recipes, reconstructed by archaeologists, for dishes that might have featured at such banquets. The one reservation I have about this disc concerns these notes, which, whilst giving many tasty details about the food, say next to nothing about the music. This detracts from the importance of the works themselves, I feel; for example, words to the songs would have been appreciated!

The pieces are extremely well-performed, and are pleasantly raucous and riotous. I was particularly drawn to the deeply appealing Alfonso X’s Muito faz grand’ero, and the enchanting anonymous Sia laudato san Francesco and Alfonso’s Laudar vollio per amore, with their male voice drone.  The voices are all suited to this kind of music – the female voices are sweet and clear, whilst remaining strong and robust – Karin Strinnholm Lagergren, for example, has a particularly sweet and beautiful voice, rich and mature.

One perhaps might look for a touch more wildness and stridency. This is, after all, feast music, and while these performances do not lack joy or passion, I feel they could be slightly less controlled and more unhinged – as, indeed, one imagines, they may have been at the time! This is otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable disc. It is not, however, an entirely novel idea; in 2001, Harmonia Mundi brought out a CD/book entitled Food, wine and song. This covers the same period and countries – even, on occasion, the same composer (de Machaut), although they don’t cover the same songs. The Harmonia Mundi publication, with the Orlando Consort, gives a 120-page disc-size booklet given over not just to the recipes - formulated by famous British cooks - but also to scholarly notes on the food, composers, music in general. It includes the texts for the songs as well. In the present case the marriage of food and music is taken a step further by each recipe being allied to a particular piece of music. The music-making is, naturally, of a high standard. If it came to a choice between the two discs, I would automatically opt for the Harmonia Mundi disc – if only because it is better presented, and includes so much extra information and material. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Falsobordone disc to any lover of medieval music, the more omniphagous the better ...

Em Marshall





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