Hombres De Maiz / Ensemble Lucidarium
Ensemble Lucidarium / Maldonado
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Notes and Editorial Reviews
HOMBRES DE MAIZ: Italian Soul in Mexican Music
Gloria Moretti (sop); Barbara Ceron (sop, Veracruz hp); Avery Gosfield (rcr); Francis Biggi (lt); Lucidarium Ens
K617 K617228 (64:23)
The Lucidarium Ensemble’s latest CD,
Hombres de Maiz
(People of the Corn), explores the crosscurrents in popular music—the music of the poor—from Mexico and southern Italy, two parts of the world linked by the political, religious, and cultural influence of Spain and the mission work of the Jesuits. While
Lucidarium is primarily known as a group specializing in Medieval and Renaissance music, this album features works from the 15th through 20th centuries that illustrate the unique folk traditions of each country and the common threads that they share. Like a good concert program, this disc is arranged in four acts, each organized around a common theme—the ostinato bass of the bergamasca, the world turned upside-down, Matachin and other warriors, songs of the earth—and each filled with a delightful variety of music performed by a group of people who have a lot of fun doing what they do. Each of the four sections moves seamlessly back and forth across the Atlantic, mixing Spanish, Italian, and native languages as well as rhythmic and musical forms.
The Italian duets, selected from 17-th century Venetian carnival music by Francesco Ratis, are true gems, sung by Gloria Moretti and the young French soprano Marie Pierre Duceau. Their voices weave in affectionate harmony over infectious dance rhythms, supported by treble instruments and plucked strings in just the right balance. They blend impeccably, reminding me of the late Monserrat Figueras singing with her daughter, Arianna Savall. Barbara Ceron’s nasal and yet throaty renditions of Mexican traditional music are powerful and heartfelt. She accompanies herself on the Veracruz harp, its bright clarity a perfect match for her voice. The three ladies join to sing the Campanian traditional song
with Duceau and Ceron joining Moretti for the choruses. Simply marvelous. My only regret is not hearing more from Bettina Ruchti. Her Baroque violin shone briefly in a feisty anonymous variation set on the Ruggiero bass, and I am left wanting more. Marco Ferrari’s clarinet playing is smoky and lyrical, and blends beautifully with rich tapestry of the accompanying instruments.
The sound is clear, close, and honest, and contributes to the illusion of a live concert performance. This album is meticulously researched, well conceived, and expertly presented. The liner notes by Francis Biggi lay out the concept behind the program in just enough detail. It achieves what, in my opinion, too many recordings of Medieval and Renaissance music do not, presenting an engaging and thoughtful concept in an elegant and entertaining way. Lucidarium captures the vibe of a concert on this disc. It is not an aural catalog of ancient and obscure repertoire, but a living, dancing presence. This disc is one of the few that I’ve heard recently that makes me want to jump up and dance—and hear this ensemble live in concert as soon as possible. Kudos.
FANFARE: Henry Lebedinsky
Works on This Recording
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Enchanting Mexican Baroque March 30, 2012
By Richard B. (Parma, OH) See All My Reviews
"This CD is a delight to listen to. It is a very imaginative and skillful blending of Mexican folk music with baroque style and sensibility. The performance here is spirited and vivacious, but without sacrificing any musical authenticity. It is history and fun at the same time. I highly recommend it. There is another CD in a similar vein that I would also recommend called Mision: Barroco Amazonico by Sphera Antiqva. They both provide interesting and unusual music that is rarely recorded. "