Saturday, January 19, 2008

Early music's high Noone


Early music is more volatile than rock music. Hot new groups keep appearing, new personalities keep emerging, and early music has a dynamism that is noticeably absent from other parts of the classical music scene. One of the hot groups right now is Ensemble Plus Ultra under their director Michael Noone. Born in Sidney, Michael Noone studied at the University of Sydney and King's College, Cambridge, and specialises in Spanish Renaissance music. He is known especially for his work in the archives of El Escorial and the Cathedral of Toledo, and his CD Morales en Toledo featured here back in 2005.

Ensemble Plus Ultra record for the enterprising Spanish Glossa label who are one of the few companies still placing importance on the design and presentation of their CDs. I am playing music from their new disc (beautiful artwork above) of sacred choral music by the 16th century Venetian Gioseffo Zarlino in my Future Radio programme at 5.00pm UK time on Sunday 20th January. Zarlino is best known for his great treatise, Istitutioni harmoniche of 1558, and is little known as a composer. His cycle of motets from the Song of Songs, Canticum Canticorum, uses Isidoro Chiari's 1544 translation. This reflects the aesthetic priorities of the Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines of which Chiari was an abbot. Cassinese churches had polished white interiors, clear windows, and a choir centered under the main dome. Among architects and artists who worked for the Congregation were Palladio and Correggio.

In Sunday's programme Zarlino's motets frame Luigi Dallapiccola's Canti di prigionia. Dallapiccola was born in 1904 and grew up as a supporter of the Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. But Dallapiccola’s wife was Jewish, and when the Italian government aligned itself with the German Nazis in 1936 he turned against Mussolini, and expressed his opposition in music. His masterpiece is Canti di prigionia which was completed in 1941. This is a hymn to all those who have been imprisoned for their beliefs, and it provides a fascinating companion piece to Zarlino's motet settings from four centuries earlier.

Now read about, and hear, masses of early music on iPods.
Listen on Future Radio at 5.00pm UK time this Sunday, January 13th in real time here (convert to local time zones here). An Overgrown Path podcast will follow. Windows Media Player doesn't like the audio stream very much and takes ages to buffer. WinAmp or iTunes handle it best. Unfortunately the royalty license doesn't permit on-demand replay, so you have to listen in real time. If you are in the Norwich, UK area tune to 96.9FM. Photo (c) On An Overgrown Path 2008. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

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