Ritus Orphaeos – Il cantore al liuto

Simone Sorini
Baryton SO/11

I really did approach this with an ‘innocent ear’ and thoroughly enjoyed it. We are offered an anthology of (mainly) Italian songs from the medieval and renaissance periods in which the singer accompanies himself on an impressive array of period-specific plucked instruments, played with an equally impressive array of period-specific techniques (various plectra and fingers) and textures (drones to polyphony). Doubtless specialists will criticise points of detail in the performance practice but it convinced me. The singing is an interesting mix of Sting (in his Dowland mode), Nigel Rogers (a willingness to experiment with technique) and Emma Kirkby (a strong engagement with the texts) and becomes increasingly ‘orthodox’ as the music becomes more modern. By our normal standards the booklet is a graphic disaster. Small and densely packed print is on a patterned background and the English ‘translation’ features regular mistakes as well as unidiomatic turns of phrase and the song texts are online only. But it’s worth persevering for the amazing amount of interesting information in there. Overall, the impression is of a performer passionately committed to what he does and I recommend this very strongly for slightly off-piste Summer listening.

David Hansell