In Taberna - Medieval Songs and Dances
Cort Antica with Francesco Bisetto (narrator)
rec. 14-15 May 2000, Palazzo Morello, Castelfranco Veneto
Track-listing at end of review
NEWTON CLASSICS 8802126 [61.11]
Having opened the package containing this disc and read its contents I thought instantly that this might well give us a very good overview of the most famous Holy Virgin-ecntred pieces from the 12th to 15th centuries. I’m not sure why the title should be ‘In the Tavern’. There’s no real connection except for one track, but never mind. In any case we do get ‘standards’ such as Vaqueiras’s Kalenda Maya, Richard I’s Ja nuns hons pris and dances such as the oft-recorded Ductias and Estampies and the famous Lamento di Tristano. You can add to the honour roll May Day songs and extracts from the Carmina Burana and The Play of Daniel some of which could, I suppose, have been heard in a tavern. All that said, I have to tell you immediately that I cannot recommend this disc. I will explain why as we go through.
Originally recorded for the Italian Rivo Alto label the first thing that struck me as odd was the recorded balance. Whereas the instrumentalists seemed to be positioned in a handy hall the voices appear to be in some distant bathroom. The singing itself may well be thought of as a little unpleasant and rather distant. The singers often lack sensitivity and the words can be sound indistinct. No texts are supplied in the booklet which is one thing. The fact that there are quite a number of tracks including no fewer than nine all at once at the end of the disc that include speech does not improve the situation. Things are hardly ameliorated by some of the songs having verbal declamation in what appears to be a Paduan dialect. I know that this is a budget label but under such circumstances a resumé of at least some of the songs and readings would have been appropriate. If you have good Italian then I would imagine there’s no problem.
I have other versions of most of these pieces and if I wanted could find the texts and translations elsewhere but if the repertoire is new to you then obviously that’s not possible. On the other hand if you just want the music to play as background to give a certain ambience to your party or evening then that’s fine. Anyway the instrumental work is very skilful and enjoyable. The tracks are well contrasted and there is much colour from percussion, hurdy-gurdys, crumhorns, bombards, lute and recorders to name just a few instruments.
The interesting booklet notes by Susannah Howe give a ‘state of play’ introduction to music in the differing centres of medieval Europe. She cites the contrast between the Troubadours of France and the German Minnesänger. She also highlights the importance of Italy. After all the sonnets and poems are by Marsilio da Carrare, Francesco di Vannozo and Nicoló de Rossi all from the fourteenth century. These items are set alongside several contemporary pieces though, strangely enough, there are no pieces by the greatest Italian composer of the fourteenth century, Francesco Landini.
Altogether a bit of an oddity.  

Gary Higginson 

Altogether a bit of an oddity.  


Nicoló de ROSSI (1290-1350)
Paduanus (1308) [0.51]
Tre fontane [1.20]
A l’entrada del tens clar [2.40]
VII Estampie royale [2.05]
Amor con un carcasso c.1470 [1.09]
Astra tenenti from Ludus Danielis [2.33]
Raimbaut de VAQUEIRAS (12 th Cent)
Kalenda Maya [2.37]
Moniot D’ARRAS (13 th cent)
Ce fu un mai [3.13]
Salterello [1.46]
E vussi’ rebaltar [1.25]
Conductus from Ludus Danielis [1.32]
Ductia I [2.08]
Richard I (1157-1199)
Ja nuns hons pris [7.09]
Trotto [1.39]
Frelo, el me vien [1.26]
In taberna from Carmina Burana [2.09]
Colin MUSET (c1200- 1250)
In may [3.03]
Quen a festa - Cantigas de Sancta Maria [2.53]
Sonetus domini Elisei [1.10]
Lamento di Tristrano [2.35]
Rotta [0.57]
V Estampie royale [3.35]
Marsilio DE CARRARA (1254-1328) and Francesco di VANNOZZO (c.1330-c.1389)
Dominus Marsilius de Carraria ad [1.08]
Responso Francisci Vanocli [1/11]
Padiuanus quidam [1.21]
Antedicuts [1.13]
Si no se ne ha ben [1.12]
Vilanesco [1.20]
Paduanus quidam 2 [1.05]
E fu in su [1.15]
Sonetus domini Helisay patavini [1.16]