Nuptiæ factæ sunt – musica ad Urbino al tempo di Raffaello

Ensemble Bella Gerit
69:00
Bella Gerit BG0207
Music by Brumel, Elimot, De La Fage, Festa, Jacotin, Josquin, Lupus, Moulu, Mouton, Richafort, De Silva & Willaert

This CD juxtaposes music by ‘big names’ such as Willaert, Brumel, Festa, Josquin and Mouton with less familiar masters such as de Silva, Richafort and Moulu and the even more obscure, such as Brunet, Jacotin, de la Fage and Elimot. The male voices of the ensemble are joined by gamba, bombard, organ, lute and sackbuts for generally effective performances of this mainly early 16th-century polyphony from the Medici Codex of 1518, the property of Lorenzo, lesser grandson of his Magnificent namesake. Painted by Raffaello and carved in marble by Michelangelo, it is hardly surprising that Lorenzo attracted the finest musicians to his opulent Court, and the fine fruits of their genius are to be found in the Medici Codex. The ensemble Bella Gerit produce a generally rich and impressive sound, except where male alto Alessandro Ciofini is forced into the soprano range and he sounds tentative and strained, as unfortunately in the second track on the CD, Brumel’s “Sicut Lilium”. There are imaginative instrumentations, including effectively strident accounts for tenor voice, bombard, sackbuts and drum of Mouton’s “Exalta Regina Galliae” and “Domine, salvum fac regem” and versions of some motets for solo voice and organ. Less successful is Josquin’s lament “Nimphes des Bois”, which sounds a bit lumpy. There is the odd infelicity in the English translation of the booklet – there would appear to be a ready living to be made translating Italian programme notes into English – but nothing which renders it incomprehensible, and full texts of the motets and translations are supplied. This new fashion of comprehensively exploring a specific choirbook provides a very useful picture of music-making in one place and at one point in time, allowing for close comparison between the works of composers, who often knew one another and worked together.

D. James Ross