on 19 August 2014
The idea of this CD is fascinating in many ways since it is centered on the Mediterranean Sea with the strange exception of Portugal which is not on that sea but can be included by extension of Spain to the whole Iberian Peninsula. It also concerns Turkey, Greece (a lot), southern Italy and some islands.
L'Arpeggiata that often works in baroque music is quite skilful at integrating more folkloric local instruments and thus to work on traditional music. This is not the first attempt they are doing. The most interesting element is the integration of three "voices" meaning singers coming from these musical traditions and not classified the way that is common in music and these three "voices" are associated to two sopranos that are coming from the classical music field. We can note this recording introduces Vincenzo Capezzuto as a voice who will be used in a later recording as an alto and will even have a duet with countertenor Philippe Jaroussky.
These singers, "voices" or sopranos, are absolutely superb in this traditional music. Misia from Portugal is of course excellent in the famous fado because of her whole career in Portugal dedicated to writing and singing fado, a music so traditional that when the Carnation Revolution took place in Lisbon, the Communists when they arrived back from exile wanted to ban it because of its popularity under the fascist dictatorship of Salazar. Some people never learn. Misia would be considered as mezzo-soprano, I guess.
Nuria Rial from Catalonia is a very good soprano and the music scene in Catalonia being very rich she has a lot of practice with all kinds of music, including traditional music. Same thing for Raquel Andueza who is from Spain. The choice of local sopranos makes their knowledge of Spanish and Catalonian more natural, hence more expressive because they know what license they can take with the sounds and the intonation quite naturally.
Katerina Papadopoulou is from Greece and she is perfect of course for the traditional music of Greece, and there are quite a few Greek songs. She would be considered as a voice close to a mezzo-soprano. On the other hand Vincenzo Capezzuto is from Italy and he is quite skilled with all songs in some Italian dialect, be it Neapolitan or some other dialect. His voice is difficult to classify. He is definitely a high-pitched voice, hence in the range of an alto or a countertenor. He sings solo only in two songs: "Pizzica di San Vito" and "Agapimu fidela protini." In the first song he is typically an alto, a high pitched voice but not too high though, rather in the range of a mezzo soprano, perfectly at ease with Katerina Papadopoulou with whom he sings three times. In the second song in which he sings alone he sings at a higher pitch at times with some kind of slightly aged boyish voice and he can then be compared to a countertenor in his range, but the expressivity is very fitting since that song is a boy speaking of his first love, hence he must be around 13 or 15.
Apart from these voices, and their songs, the CD has musicals tracks. Track 3 is a Greek traditional song. Track 5 is a Turkish composition from the 19th century. Track 10 is a Turkish improvisation with a qanun and a saz played by two Turkish musicians. Track 16 is an improvisation on music by Marcello Vitale from Naples with Marcello Vitale and two other musicians. These tracks have that other charm of being pure music because traditional singing is most of the time accompanied by music, or at least comes to some mental music.
But then the music and the songs are dedicated to the sea and to love. Most of the time, if not all the time they are sad because they speak of the sea and its dangers or the sea and the separation it brings for a while, maybe forever. And love is always a cruel and sad story even when that love is satisfied because it finds some sadness in the knowledge that it will not be forever. This sadness is a choice of Christina Pluhar who is the mastermind of this selection and production. And she is a very emotional person: she looks for the songs and music that bring up the most intense passions and emotions you can imagine within the range of the human mind, of the human soul.
The DVD gives you the real performance of the first four tracks, three songs and one instrumental. You have four of the singers and you will be able to see Vincenzo Capezzuto in his blood and suit and I must say his high pitched grown boyish voice is surprising when you can put it in his body. On the other hand Lisia could be said sublime in her "Sem saber" performance. She looks so inspired that she no longer is with us but she is flying over the studio and over us in some ominous tone, posture and stance. The DVD is a real supplement to our enjoyment of this music.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
on 7 March 2013
I anticipated a good hour's listening when I ordered the CD, but this has knocked my socks off! Glorious vocals and superb musicianship throughout. Ms Pluhar has done it again in blending old and new together and L'Arpeggiata has another triumph under it's collective belt. The bonus DVD is a REAL bonus, too. Buy without hesitation.
on 23 April 2013
This album is a joy, even if the subject matter of some of the songs is not... Sem Saber, for example, cannot be said to have the cheeriest of lyrics! But, like the album's namesake, the tide of music sweeps the listener along and the glorious vocals surge to wash away the cares of the world. Their best album since La Tarantella, in my opinion.
on 5 April 2013
I'm giving this 4 stars because 5 stars is a matter of objective taste. Christine Pluhar has ploughed through scores and scores of scores and each time she come up with something quite unique and rarely not interesting. This CD has with it a DVD with quite a representative number of songs. Christine Pluhar, as is usual with many of her albums, has invited guest performers.The songs come are Portuguese, Greek, Neapolitan, Turkish, Catalonian and Mallorcan - to name just a few song types and there is a distinct flavour to this CD which Christine Pluhar has recorded before but not exactly like this. If you're interested then sample the tunes on the Internet first.