Two Roads Diverged… The Far Side of ECM
Rolf Lislevand is a lutenist and guitarist. On Nuove Musiche he arranges early baroque compositions in such a way as to illustrate exactly the elements that all western music has in common. So fair warning is given: those potential listeners expecting a period performance of a sixteenth century Italian minstrel show will be sorely disappointed. Instead, Lislevand practices a bit of Norse alchemy with this old music, teasing from it flamenco, Celtic, and Scandinavian elements. On this point, Lislevand opines, "[Seventeenth century passacaglias] thrive on chromaticism, harsh dissonances, and offbeat rhythms. If the composers tried to get these effects, then we have every right to go even further. My idea is simply to develop and elaborate things already there in the material. That philosophy could just as easily describe jazz's use of tin pan Alley as a song source.
Lislevand's ensemble is made up of himself and six like-hearted compatriots from his larger Kapsberger Ensemble. The principles were recorded using multi-tracking methods, providing a very full string sound. The music elaborated on is all from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and include pieces by Giovanni Kapsberger (c. 1575-1661), Domenico Pellegrini (c. 1610-1662), Alessandro Piccinini (1566-1638), and Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643). Lislevand's arrangements effectively separate (nee, liberate) these harmonies, melodies, and rhythms from the confines of 400-year-old manuscripts, giving them an almost movie soundtrack quality. The addition of soprano voice by Adranna Savall further accentuates this illusion.
While this music sounds suspiciously like a good bit of Celtic New Age music, it is entirely too studied and intelligent to be thus pigeonholed. Lislevand researched the pieces selected with a scholar's eye and never strayed into gauche territory. The result is music, eminently listenable, that can serve a variety of purposes from passive listening to formal study when compared with period performances. In any event, the recording is quite enjoyable and highly recommended.
Tracks and Personnel
Nicolas Gombert: Missa Media Vita in Morte Sumus
Tracks: Media vita in morte sumus; Kyrie (from Missa Media Vita); Gloria (from Missa Media Vita); Salve Regina; Anima Mea; Credo (from Missa Media Vita); O crux, splenidor cunctis; Sanctus (from Missa Media Vita); Quam pulchra es; Agnus Dei (from Missa Media Vita); Musae lovis.
Personnel: David James countertenor; Rogers Covey: Crump tenor; Steven Harrold: tenor; Andreas Hirtreiter; tenor; Gordon Jones; baritone; Robert Macdonald; bass.
Tracks: Sonata No. 1 in g Minor from Sonate a violino solo e basso op. 1 (1721); Sonata No. 5 in C Major from Sonate a violino, o flauto solo, e basso; Sonata No. 1 in D Major from Dissertazioni ... sopra l'opera quinta del Corelli; Sonata No. 6 in A Major from Sonate accademiche op. 2 (1744)
Personnel: John Holloway: violin; Jaap ter Linden: cello; Lars Ulrik Mortensen: cembalo.
Tracks: Arpeggiata addio; Passacaglia antica I; Passacaglia andaluz I; Passacaglia antica II; Passacaglia cromatica; Passacaglia antica III; Passacaglia cantus firmus; Passacaglia celtica; Passacaglia spontanea; Passacaglia andaluz II; Toccata; Passacaglia cantata; Corrente; Corrente; Toccata; Ciaccona; Toccata cromatica;
Personnel: Rolf Lislevand: archlute, baroque guitar, theorboe; Arianna Savall: triple harp, voice; Pedro Estevan: percussion; Bjørn Kjellemyr: colascione, double-bass; Guido Morini: organ, clavichord; Marco Ambrosin:i nyckelharpa (viola d'amore a chiavi); Thor- Harald Johnsen: chitarra battente.