La Historia del Beato San Martino

Cappella Musicale di San Gaicomo Maggiore in Bologna, Roberto Cascio
Tactus TC 520003
Capirola, Cara, Dalza, Hedus, Josquin, anon & Cascio

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The first 17:44 of this CD consist of a recitation by Robert Cascio of the 1520/1558 Historia text with one or two (unidentified) musical interpolations – while the text along with the texts of the ensuing musical items appears on the Tactus website, I was unable to find any English translations. The programme notes appear in Italian and English with the CD, and the idea of associating the Historia with roughly contemporary Italian music is an interesting one. The musical part of the CD consists of Lauds, Chansons and Frottole from the late 15th and early 16th centuries, which appeared from the Petrucci Press in Venice from the early 16th century, so roughly contemporaneously with the prints of the Historia. However, there the link with St Martin ends – none of the music is specifically related to the saint or mentions him at all. I can’t help feeling that a Saint who warranted magnificent cathedrals in the likes of Lucca and Venice must have had poetry other than the Historia written about him, which in turn would have been set to music. Anyway, while it is not clear whether the term ‘world premiere recording’ on the CD refers to just the Historia or all of the material, the musical part of the programme is unfamiliar and generally well presented with a mixture of instruments and voices. The instrumental playing is generally good, while the solo vocalists are generally OK on their own, although sadly the same can not be said of the vocal ensemble pieces, in which the tuning is so uncomfortable that it fails to settle even at cadences. As sometimes happens, this has the feel of a concert programme, which probably went down really well live, being committed to CD without the additional work necessary to bring it up to standard.

D. James Ross

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