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Romance / Brio


Release Date: 01/08/2008 
Label:  Sono Luminus   Catalog #: 90708   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne BallardDanny MallonJosé LemosSteve Rosenberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 50 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Brio is a relatively new early-music ensemble (formed in 2002) that specializes in "medieval, Renaissance, and Sephardic music." Its members are far from novices, however; each has a distinguished resumé that includes mastery of performance on various instruments (Baroque guitar, recorder, viola da gamba, rebec, all manner of percussion) or voice, in the case of Brazilian countertenor José Lemos. Larry Lipkis and Mary Anne Ballard are regular members of the Baltimore Consort; Brio founder Steve Rosenberg is known as "the Pied Piper of the recorder world"; percussionist/Mannes College of Music faculty member Danny Mallon is highly regarded for his popular recital "Drums Through the Ages"; and Read more José Lemos is a very busy opera singer and recitalist who has appeared at some of the world's most famous festivals and opera houses.

The repertoire on this program is described as being derived from "oral tradition from the Sephardic Jewish culture of early Spain." And indeed, precisely because of this oral tradition no one today can know for sure what the original music actually sounded like or what instruments were used. This region of the world also was subject to many cultural influences and societal upheavals--including the expulsion and dispersal of Jews from Spain and Portugal in the 1490s--that again, because the music wasn't written down, certainly affected the music's later stylistic and linguistic features. Thus, what Brio gives us are performances of songs and dances based both on scholarship and the kind of intuition that informs the work of artists long immersed in a particular field or practice.

If you haven't heard Lemos perform--and you really should experience his singing live, for he is a very charismatic performer--you'll notice how his vocal quality and expressive manner have a sort of "nervous" intensity that differs from the more lyrical, silver-throated legato technique of, say, David Daniels or Andreas Scholl. Some of this is due to the nature of the songs, which demand emotional emphases that occasionally place deeply-felt passion above pure beauty of tone. And Lemos is completely in command of both his musical material, much of which involves the ornamental slides and micro-tonal melodies characteristic of Middle Eastern music, and language, whether Spanish or Ladino (the "native tongue of Iberian Jews").

Lemos' partners are invariably tasteful and artful in their accompaniments, always conscious of the texts and how to set a mood or set a proper dance rhythm. Although for a listener unfamiliar with this kind of music there's a similarity to many of the songs that may not allow for continuously focused listening for the disc's full 50 minutes, there's also an undeniable commitment and energy from the performers--besides the sheer virtuosity of their singing and playing!--that's worth experiencing, especially in repertoire with such fascinating diversity of melodic and rhythmic styles and colorful instrumentation. Recommended.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
La serena by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
Period: Medieval 
Written: Spain 
2.
Ya Me Cansi by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
3.
El mi quierdo bevió vino by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
4.
Quien es aquello by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
5.
Una tarde de verano by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
6.
Van y vienen by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
7.
Nani, nani by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1492; Spain 
8.
Esterica Sarfatí by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
9.
A la una by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
Written: Bulgaria 
10.
Noches, noches by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
11.
La rose by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
Written: Canada 
12.
Las estreyas by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
13.
Las muchachas de servir by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio
14.
Adio querida by Traditional
Performer:  Mary Anne Ballard (Viola Da Gamba), Danny Mallon (Percussion), José Lemos (Counter Tenor),
Steve Rosenberg (Recorder/Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brio

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