Medusa, Patrizia Bovi
This CD by a spin-off group from the Ensemble Micrologus uses the colourful life of the notorious Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of the Borgia Pope and twin sister of the bloodthirsty Cesare as a peg on which to hang a selection of appropriate 15th- and 16th-century repertoire. Lucrezia’s short life was packed with incident, and as the daughter of one of Italy’s foremost families she had direct contact with many of the musicians whose music features here. Her family intrigues also meant that she moved constantly throughout Italy, experiencing the great centres of culture such as Rome and Mantua. Patrizia Bovi, who sings and plays the bray harp, and Medusa, who play a variety of stringed instruments take the same the same forthright approach to the repertoire as does Ensemble Micrologus, and there is a pleasing sparkle and energy about this CD. Lucrezia’s biography is a compelling one, and the carefully selected music evokes this very effectively. The concluding group of devotional songs is particularly affecting, bearing in mind that Lucrezia spent her last few years frequently visiting the convent of Corpus Christi and died in childbirth at the age of just 39 – emblematically Ms Bozi is left singing on her own at the very end. If as a vocalist she doesn’t always sound entirely comfortable in the upper register demanded by some of the pieces, her singing is always characterful and convincing, and I found I got used to the rather ‘room-next-door’ acoustic of the recording. And yes, the small fly in the notes next to number 11 is a printer’s trick – at least I hope it is.
D. James Ross