Agricola was praised by his contemporaries for the bizarre turn of his inspiration, and his music likened to quicksilver. By the standards of the period this is a highly unusual turn of phrase, but remains spot-on. The Ferrara Ensemble anthology, the first ever devoted to the composer, focused on the secular music, both instrumental and vocal, precisely the area covered by Michael Posch and Ensemble Unicorn in this most satisfying disc. Where there's duplication (surprisingly little, in fact) the performances compare with those of the Ferrara Ensemble, although the style of singing is very different. The voices are more up front and less inflected, perhaps the better to match the high instruments with which they're sometimes doubled. But the tensile quality of Agricola's lines comes through none the less, as does the miraculous inventiveness and charm of his music. Further, much of what's new to the catalogue really is indispensible, for example Agricola's most famous song, Allez, regretz. Unicorn keeps its improvisations and excursions to a minimum, and the music is the better for it. It really is a must-have.
Little is known about the life of Maxim Sozontovich Berezovsky (ca.1745–1777). Almost no documentary material has survived, and biographies of the composer published in the 19th century were for the most part based on conjecture and supposition. His tragic demise, exceptional talent and short life might seem a compelling plot for romantic fiction. A novella by Nestor Kukolnik appeared in the 1840s and a play by Peter Smirnov was staged at the Alexandrine Imperial Theatre in St. Petersburg.
This box set comprises eight discs recorded by the remarkable Jordi Savall with his wife Montserrat Figueras and the wonderful Hespèrion XX. They span a period of ten or so years from 1976 were originally issued on LP by Virgin Classics. Since those days Savall’s performances have matured and grown in confidence but one can still easily recognize the brains behind the outfit and the sound-world he wanted to create. Later he moved to Auvidis Astrée and in more recent times has set up his own label - Alia Vox - where he really has been set loose. He has produced discs with superb documentation which have investigated many forgotten corners of medieval and Renaissance music which quite often we never even knew existed.
Italian progressive black metal band Hortus Animae has release their new album Secular Music, which is considered to be their comeback album since their 2005 opus The Blow Of Furious Winds. The following statement was also posted on their official Facebook page: "Important news from the Hortus Animae front: the band has inked a deal with the historic British label Flicknife Records for the worldwide release of their comeback album Secular Music that will start hitting the roads on March 24, 2014. "
Prior to the Spanish Inquisition, peace, tolerance, and shared learning existed. This shared knowledge influenced all subjects from the sciences to the arts. The music composed and performed during this time was about being in the moment: Some pieces tell stories–'Cancionera de la Columbina' for example–while others express emotions, as in the 'Romances.' Interestingly enough, the "non-Jewish" selections were written during the Inquisition, while the Sephardic selections were written right before it. Director Jordi Savall and Hesperion XX, an ensemble that specializes in early music from all over the world, are like chameleons. Soprano Montserrat Figueras is able to inhabit each work with great authenticity and individual style. Her singing on the 'Villancicos' displays more of a Renaissance influence, while in the 'Sephardic Romances' we hear authentic Middle Eastern inflections. The contrast in style of the "Christian" versus "Jewish" works is evident, but there are similarities. Both "Si d'amor pena sentis" and "La Reina xerifa mora" are lyrical, sparsely accompanied, and plaintive in tone. The songs on these discs are beautiful and expertly performed.