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De Fragilitate - Piae Cantiones / Zefiro Torna


Release Date: 10/30/2007 
Label:  Etcetera Records   Catalog #: 4023   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Anonymous
Conductor:  Zefiro TornaSebastiaan Van Steenberge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zefiro TornaAntwerp Cathedral Boys Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


What a pleasant surprise! Instead of a relatively predictable if musically solid, expertly performed, enjoyable enough early music program (a familiar formula that caused me to allow this disc to languish unheard for a long time), I discovered a trove of distinctive, intriguingly varied, eminently repeatable vocal music--lovely, infectious tunes, irresistible rhythms, even some multi-part selections, all set to artful, captivating instrumental arrangements played on kantele, recorder, bagpipes, gamba, fiddle, lute, and percussion.

The two primary singers of Zefiro Torna, Cécile Kempenaers and Els Van Laethem, have the kind of pure intonation and rich timbre that lends to very
Read more agreeable listening--you could enjoy hearing these women sing all day. The same could be said for the very fine instrumentalists, who really know how to create atmosphere, nail a rhythm, and infuse a song with style and energy enough to make you not care what language it's sung in or what the text means.

Speaking of which, the music is from a collection of medieval songs drawn from many European sources--assembled in Finland in 1582 and intended for use in a Finnish school. Most of the songs included here are sung in Latin, but a few--those "that have a strong folk character"--are sung in Finnish. Many of the tunes are related to Christmas (one of them being the well-known Personent hodie), but some of the most compelling are those "folklike" numbers that come about half-way through the program (including the marvelous spring-song "Tempus adest floridum", sung in Finnish to the "Good King Wenceslas" tune), followed by some unusual Latin songs, including the gorgeous "Cum sit omnis caro foenum" (When all flesh is as grass) and the Middle-Eastern-flavored "Scholares convenite" (Students gather around), all of which are substantially enlivened by the delightful accompaniments. A small group of children's voices from the Antwerp Cathedral Choir adds its own special color and expertise to several selections.

The program builds from simpler settings to more complex arrangements--and in the overall sound and flavor and style of the performances by this Flemish ensemble, especially during the latter half of the disc, I couldn't help but be reminded of the superb American group, the Baltimore Consort--and that's a high compliment. Importantly, not only are these performers in complete command of the material, but they clearly are having fun bringing us along with them. And it's all presented in ideal sound, with brief but informative notes and texts given in the original language and English. I shouldn't have waited so long to hear this 2007 production--and now neither should you. You'll be playing this often. Outstanding!

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com

Complete tracks:

Anonymous Angelus emittitur 2007 1:24
Anonymous Salve flos et decor 2007 4:16
Anonymous Verbum caro factum est 2007 2:06
Anonymous Congaudeat turba fidelium 2007 1:54
Anonymous Parvulus nobis nascitur 2007 2:59
Anonymous Personent hodie/Gaudete, gaudete Christus est natus 2007 1:30
Anonymous Nobis est natus 2007 2:27
Anonymous Paranymphus adiens 2007 2:17
Anonymous Jucundare jugiter 2007 2:05
Anonymous Aetas carmen melodiae 2007 3:38
Anonymous Aetas carmen melodiae 2007 1:56
Finnish Traditional Kurja, paha syntinen, hymn 2007 4:44
Anonymous Mars praecurrit in planetis 2007 1:43
Anonymous Cum sit omnis caro foenum 2007 3:02
Anonymous Scholares convenite 2007 3:35
Anonymous Zachaeus arboris 2007 1:35
Anonymous O Scholares discite 2007 4:39v Anonymous Sum in aliena provincia 2007 2:25
Anonymous Ad perennis vitae fontem 2007 2:15
Anonymous In vernali tempore 2007 2:43
Anonymous Tempus adest floridum 2007 1:42
Finnish Traditional Kaikki maailma riemuitkohon, hymn 2007 3:17

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Works on This Recording

1. De fragilitate et miseris humanae conditionis by Anonymous
Conductor:  Zefiro Torna,  Sebastiaan Van Steenberge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zefiro Torna,  Antwerp Cathedral Boys Choir
Period: Medieval 
Written: Finland 
2. Ad perennis vitae fontem by Anonymous
Conductor:  Sebastiaan Van Steenberge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zefiro Torna,  Antwerp Cathedral Boys Choir
Period: Medieval 
3. In vernali tempore by Anonymous
Conductor:  Sebastiaan Van Steenberge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zefiro Torna,  Antwerp Cathedral Boys Choir
Period: Medieval 
4. Zachaeus arboris by Anonymous
Conductor:  Sebastiaan Van Steenberge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zefiro Torna,  Antwerp Cathedral Boys Choir
Period: Medieval 
5. Cum sit omnis caro foenum by Anonymous
Conductor:  Sebastiaan Van Steenberge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zefiro Torna,  Antwerp Cathedral Boys Choir
Period: Medieval 
6. Congaudeat turba fidelium by Anonymous
Conductor:  Sebastiaan Van Steenberge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zefiro Torna,  Antwerp Cathedral Boys Choir
Period: Medieval 
7. Angelus emittitur by Anonymous
Conductor:  Sebastiaan Van Steenberge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zefiro Torna,  Antwerp Cathedral Boys Choir
Period: Medieval 
8. Kaikki maailma riemuitkohon by Anonymous
Conductor:  Sebastiaan Van Steenberge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zefiro Torna,  Antwerp Cathedral Boys Choir
Period: Medieval 
9. Aetas carmen melodiae by Anonymous
Conductor:  Sebastiaan Van Steenberge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zefiro Torna,  Antwerp Cathedral Boys Choir
Period: Medieval 

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