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Laudario di Cortona No. 91: Paraliturgical Vocal Music from the Middle Ages

Armoniosoincanto / Armoniosoincanto / Raddichia
Release Date: 03/31/2015 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 94872   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 49 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Can a set of devotional pieces of music, sung in the vernacular to supplement the Latin of the official liturgy in medieval Italy possibly appeal to a modern audience in our 21st-century secular society? The answer is a definite affirmative, especially when it’s as beautifully performed and recorded as it is here and even more so when the whole well-filled 4-CD set can be yours for less than you might expect for one CD.

Laudario is the Italian equivalent of the Latin word Laudarium, a collection of songs of praise. This collection, dating from around 1250, contains laude or vernacular hymns which would have been sung as an adjunct to the Latin liturgy for particular times of the church year or feasts of the Virgin Mary and
Read more other saints. They range from simple monophonic settings to early polyphony and some of the items are accompanied.

Associated with St. Francis, or at least with the Franciscans, they would have helped the laity to keep in touch with the liturgy in the same way as the English Lay Folks Mass Book from a rather later period of the Middle Ages – EETS text online. That text also contains some verses not dissimilar to the laude in the Cortona collection. The number 91 is something of a red herring: there are not that number of laude in the collection; rather that’s the number of the manuscript in which they are preserved in the Biblioteca Communale di Cortona.

Let me deal first with one possible reservation: the original music would have been sung by an all-male ensemble whereas Armoniosoincanto is an all-female ensemble; though on this occasion they are supplemented by male singers and instrumentalists from Anonima Frottolisti it’s the female voices that predominate.

That didn’t worry me, but if you want a recording on which the male voices are slightly more predominant, there’s a Tactus recording of sixteen of these pieces sung by La Dolce Vista/Giovanni Caruso. I also enjoyed hearing that recording but it costs at least as much for a single selection as the whole Brilliant Classics set and there are some all-female items there, too. (TC270001: Sample/stream/download from Qobuz.) In fact, there’s almost as much minority male participation on Brilliant as on Tactus, so you may as well have four times the music for the same money.

If you think that predominantly female voices may rule out this recording for you, I suggest sampling from Qobuz, though I wouldn’t recommend downloading from there: at least one dealer is currently offering the CD set for less than the Qobuz download. For those who have fallen in love with the music of Hildegard of Bingen, the female singers here may well prove an advantage in evoking recordings of her works.

Another, more serious, reservation: there are no texts in the brief booklet – available online – and I couldn’t find the promised online texts and translations: 13th-century Italian isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The Tactus release does contain texts, but no translations, and they are available, with the recording, from Naxos Music Library.

Both the Tactus and Brilliant recordings are beautifully sung. There is very little to choose between them in that respect, except that the acoustic and recording quality on Brilliant, together with that of the performances, makes the music sound even more ethereal. At times Armoniosoincanto sound like six Emma Kirkbys – and I can’t offer higher praise than that. The other equally distinguished comparison that comes to mind is with Anonymous 4. My next stop was their recording of similar repertoire, a few items also taken from the Cortona collection, Ave Donna Santissima (Tactus TC260001). That was recorded in 2005 and they take a little longer now over the three items common to both collections but I liked both.

We can’t be sure if there would have been instrumental accompaniment or of what kind, but the flutes, harp, lute, vielle, dulcimer, portative organ and other instruments of the time employed here are never obtrusive. The Tactus recording also employs instruments.

I don’t propose that you listen to all four CDs in sequence but there is certainly enough variety on each disc to maintain your interest for the 70 minutes or so of each. Lovers of the likes of the music of Hildegard of Bingen should need no bidding. Others may wish to sample first but most will succumb to these ethereal performances. This is an unbelievably inexpensive set – even less per disc than the original Naxos releases – but it’s certainly not cheap in the other sense.

-- Brian Wilson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Venite a laudare by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 15th Century; Italy 
2.
Stella nuova by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
3.
Salve, salve, virgo pia by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 13th Century; Italy 
4.
Regina sovrana by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Italy 
5.
Plangiamo quel crudel basciare by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
6.
Peccatrice, nominata by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
7.
O Maria, d'omelia by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
8.
O divina virgo fiore by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: Italy 
9.
Madonna santa Maria by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
10.
Laude novella sia cantata by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 13th Century; Italy 
11.
Gloria in cielo by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
12.
Fami cantar l'amor di la beata by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: Italy 
13.
Dal ciel venne messo novello by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 15th Century; Italy 
14.
Cristo e nato by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 13th Century; Italy 
15.
Ben č crudele é spietoso by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: Italy 
16.
Ave, vergene gaudente by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: Italy 
17.
Ave, donna sanctissima by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Renaissance 
18.
Ave, Dei genitrix by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: Italy 
19.
Ave Maria, gratia plena by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
20.
Altissima luce col grande splendore by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: Italy 
21.
Ave, regina gloriosa by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
22.
Vergene donçella da Dio amata by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
23.
Troppo perde'l tempo by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
24.
Stomme allegro e latioso by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 15th Century 
25.
Spirito sancto da servire by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: Italy 
26.
Sia laudato San Francesco by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
27.
Salutiam divotamente by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: Italy 
28.
Onne homo by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; Italy 
29.
Oi me lasso by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
30.
Magdalena degna da laudare by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 13th Century; Italy 
31.
Laudar vollio per amore by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: Italy 
32.
Facciam laude a tuct'i sancti by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; Italy 
33.
De la crudel morte de Cristo by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: Italy 
34.
Dami conforto Dio by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
35.
Ciascum ke fede sente by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; Italy 
36.
Chi vňle lo mondo despreççare by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 15th Century; Italy 
37.
Benedicti e laudati by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; Italy 
38.
Alta Trinita Beata by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
39.
Iesů Cristo glorďoso by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
40.
Laudamo la resurrectďone by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
41.
Spiritu Sancto dolçe amore by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; Italy 
42.
Spirito sancto glorďoso by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
43.
L’alto prençe archangelo lucent by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
44.
San Iovanni al mondo č nato by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
45.
Ogn’om canti novel canto by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
46.
Amor dolçe sença pare by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto
47.
O Maria, Dei cella by Anonymous
Conductor:  Franco Radicchia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Armoniosoincanto

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