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Venezia Millenaria (Venice 700-1797)
Details after review
Hanna Bayodi-Hirt (soprano)
Furio Zanasi (baritone)
Luis Vilamajó (tenor)
Lior Elmaleh
Haïg Sarikouyoumdjian
Le Concert des Nations
Hespèrion XXI
La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Ensemble Panagiotis Neochoritis/Jordi Savall
rec. live Abbaye de Fontfroide, 16 July, Kollegienkirche, Salzburg, 26 July, and Tivoli Vredenburg, Utrecht, 2 October 2016. DSD.
2 SACDs in hardback book.
ALIA VOX AVSA9925 SACD [77:00 + 79:00]

East meets West in Venice in a typical Jordi Savall concoction. It’s either a ridiculous mish-mash, with no solid evidence for the inclusion of any of the very varied pieces of music, or the latest of his very enjoyable offerings. My head says the former, but my heart cannot resist any more than it could the earlier War and Peace in Baroque Europe 1614-1714 (AVSA9908 – DL News 2015_3), La sublime porte: Voix d’Istanbul (AVSA9887 – Download of the Month) and Jérusalem, La ville des deux paix (AVSA9863 – DL Roundup April 2010).

As with the earlier recordings, though the main work is done by Jordi Savall’s own team, Le Concert des Nations, Hespèrion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, he has specialised help, on this occasion with the Greek and Hebrew items.

The title suggests a thousand years of Venetian history, from its birth in the 8th century to its fall to Napoleon in 1797. I make that slightly more than 1,000 years, especially as the last work, though linked here to the events of 1797, was composed much later by a composer born in 1815 and borrowing material from two Beethoven symphonies composed after 1797. But who’s counting? In any case, the connection between the music and the historical events listed is somewhat tenuous; that’s not really the point.

Forget the links to dates and events and enjoy these two SACDs as examples of music from Western Europe and points East over a period of 100 centuries, all loosely pivoted around Venice with its trading routes. Much of this music is not otherwise available: though there are several recordings of Guillaume Dufay’s music, his Lament for the Fall of Constantinople (SACD1, tr.15) is not among them.

The irony of including that lament in a programme of music linked to Venice will not have escaped those who recall how Venetian troops in 1204, ostensibly en route for the crusade, plundered that great city. That’s where St Mark’s famous horses came from. One of the few alternative recordings of Willaert’s Vecchie Lettrose (SACD1, tr.18) is on another Savall recording (AV9814).

There’s another overlap with that earlier Savall recording in the form of Janequin’s evocation of the Battle of Marignan (SACD1, tr.16), though that’s included on the earlier recording in a shortened form in Susato’s arrangement.

The major work on the new recording comes in a snappy performance of Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (SACD2, tr.8). Coincidentally, that’s the title work on a collection of Monteverdi madrigals of love on a Glossa CD (GCD923512 - review pending). Like my benchmark recording of Monteverdi’s Book VIII, from Concerto Italiano and Rinaldo Alessandrini (Naïve OP30435, download only), Cantar Lontano take around 20 minutes for that work and some recordings even run to over 25 minutes. Savall’s dramatic tour de force at 16:51 even shaves a minute off René Jacobs’ fine recording (Harmonia Mundi budget-price twofer, HMY2921736/37).

No-one is likely to buy the Alia Vox recording just for Tancredi e Clorinda, but it’s a real ‘wow’ of a performance. On a whole CD of Monteverdi, it just might woo me away from Alessandrini, Jacobs and the new Cantar Lontano recording.

Nor is anyone likely to buy the new recording just for Janequin’s La bataille (SACD1, tr.16), recordings of which sometimes preface Guerrero’s Mass, based on the music, or Janequin’s own Messe la bataille. This time Savall achieves his dramatic effect at a slightly slower tempo than Harry Christophers with The Sixteen (COR16067, with the Guerrero) or Dominique Visse and the Ensemble Clément Janequin (Les cris de Paris, super-budget Harmonia Mundi HMA1951072). Visse’s recording of the Janequin Messe la bataille is on another super-budget Harmonia Mundi recording (HMA1901536, with Messe l’aveugle Dieu, download only).

Willaert is a neglected composer and while, again, you wouldn’t buy the Alia Vox SACDs just for his Vecchie letrose (CD1, tr.18), it’s as good as any other recording that I know.

Good as all these pieces are by comparison with other recordings, it’s the unknown that constitutes the appeal of the new recording. Why, for example, is this apparently the only recording of Joan Brudieu’s madrigal Oid, Oid, which ends CD1 with the good news of the Christian defeat of the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto? Why, indeed, is there not more music by Brudieu in the catalogue?

There are odd recordings, scattered among various albums, of the psalms of Goudimel1, composed for simple singing by the Calvinists of Geneva, but this is the only one of his charming little setting of Psalm 35 so far as I am aware (CD2, tr.1).

It’s for the whole over-arching conception and the realisation of such a massive project by the multi-talented Savall and his team that this new recording is to be recommended. Smaller-scale programmes of multi-cultural musical meeting places there are, such as that described in footnote 1 below, but only Savall, on this and his earlier recordings, operates on this level.

I reviewed this release as streamed, thereby missing the de luxe book in which the SACDs are enshrined. The Qobuz streaming site promises the book, but you seem to have to wait for ever for it to appear. There are, however, lengthy notes by Jordi Savall on the Alia Vox website. Downloads without the book can be found for as little as £5.99 (mp3) or £8.49 (lossless).

Unless you are constitutionally averse to having your metaphorical socks knocked off, place your order now for this and for any of Savall’s earlier concept albums that you may have missed.

1 His Psalm 6 is sung by The King’s Singers on a collection of Genevan settings, with music by Hebrew and Islamic composers (Signum SIGCD065 – review). I missed this when it was released but caught up with it and enjoyed hearing it as a 24-bit download, with pdf booklet, from hyperion-records.co.uk.

Brian Wilson

Contents
SACD1 (700-1571)
Fanfare (Instrumental, after CVIII melody) [1:11]
Ioannis DAMASKINOS (CVIII) Alléluia (Byzantine choral) [5:26]
Halatzoglou kratema (Byzantine instrumental) [1:45]
MARCABRU (1100-1150) Crusade song: Pax in nomine Domini [2:55]
Danse de l’âme (North African Instrumental – Berber traditional) [2:44]
Traditional: Matins Hymn [6:50]
Traditional: Armenian song and dance (CXIII) [2:35]
Traditional Conductus: O totus Asie Gloria, Regis Alexandria Filia (CXIII) [2:19]
Anonymous Istampitta: Saltarello (CXIV MS) [2:25]
Ioannis DAMASKINOS Pásan tin elpida mu [4:35]
Chiave, chiave (Instrumental – early CXV) [1:20]
Adoramus te (CXV Songbook) [2:57]
Hirmos Calophonique : Tin Déisin mu (CXV Troparion) [5:26]
Ottoman March: Nikriz peşrev – Ali Ufki Bey [2:08]
Guillaume DUFAY (1397-1474) Lamentio Sanctæ Matris Ecclesiæ Constantinopolitanæ [7:42]
Clément JANEQUIN (1485-1558) La Guerre : La Bataille de Marignan [7:21]
Traditional: Song of Songs (3,1-4): Qamti be-Ishon Layla [3:20]
Adrian WILLAERT (1490-1562) Villanesca alla napolitana : Vecchie letrose [2:46]
Dimitrie CANTOMIR (1673-1723) Ottoman instrumental: Der makām-ı Uzzäl Sakîl [4:21]
Joan BRUDIEU (1520-1591) Madrigal: Oíd, oíd... (... las buenas nuevas de Lepanto) [6:02]

SACD2 (1571-1797)
Claude GOUDIMEL (c1520-1572) Psaumes de David. Ficht wider meine Anfechter (Psalm 35) [2:13]
Ioannes KLADAS (late CXIV-CXV) Géfsasthe ke idete [4:30]
Traditional Sousta (Instrumental – Cypriot dance) [1:58]
Andrea GABRIELI (1532-1585) Ricercar VII [2:35]
Michael CHATZIATHANASIOU Slavic Eucharistic Hymn [2:22]
Anonymous Laïla Djân (Instrumental – Persian dance) [2:34]
Salomone ROSSI (c.1570-1630) Psalm 137, (1-6): ’Al nàhärót bavél [3:34]
Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, SV153 [16:51]
Johann ROSENMÜLLER (1619-1684) Sinfonia Seconda [4:14]
Ottoman march: Der Makām-i-Rehavi Çember-i-Koca [3:05]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) La Senna festeggiante, RV693: Di queste selve venite, o Numi [4:12]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) (arr. J Savall) Piano Sonata No.11 in F, K331: Alla turca ( Allegretto) [4:09]
Anonymous Deo gratias (Russian orthodox Hymn, CXVI) [7:26]
Traditional Constitutional song: Nous sommes tous égaux [2:40]
Johann Adolph HASSE (1699-1783) Canzonette veneziane da battello. Raccolta di gondoliere: Per quel bel viso [3:43]
Canzonette veneziane da battello. Raccolta di gondoliere: Mia cara Anzoletta [2:50]
Luigi BORDESE (1815-1886) La Sainte Ligue : La nuit est sombre; Vengeons la grande ombre) (After BEETHOVEN Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7) [9:41]

 

 



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