Prisma: Il Transilvano

Musical bridges between Italy and Hungary around 1600
Works from the Codex Caioni and Hungarian folk music
Ambronay AMY312

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This beautifully performed CD alternates Italian music of the late Renaissance with traditional Hungarian music. What it doesn’t do, unsurprisingly, is provide ‘musical bridges between Italy and Hungary around 1600’. The Transilvano of the title illustrates the problem. It is borrowed from a famous organ treatise by Girolamo Diruta (Venice 1593) dedicated to Sigismond Báthory, Prince of Transylvania, but of course the music the group plays from this collection, notwithstanding some ‘Hungarianised’ divisions, sounds entirely Italian. So too the music from Codex Caioni which makes up most of the rest of the Italian component. Amongst others, Renée Clemencic has demonstrated that there is Hungarian music from this period, but the Hungarian traditional music here, beautifully evocative as it is, seems not to be from 16th- or 17th –century sources. As long as you are not looking for some magical musical ‘bridge’ between 17th-century Italy and Hungary, there is much to enjoy here, from the plaintive Hungarian violin airs and the lovely singing of Franciska Hajdu in the Hungarian ballad Magos kösziklának, to the imaginative and fresh accounts of the Italian Renaissance repertoire. There is nothing wrong with playing the divisions in this early repertoire with a Transylvanian flair, but to my ear it still sounds entirely Italian.  

D. James Ross

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