Fantastic Creatures in Medieval Song
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Ensemble Dragma have combed the surviving output of Johannes Ciconia, Paolo da Firenze, Jacopo da Bologna, Francesco Landini, Magister Franciscus, Donato da Firenze and Trebor in search of music associated with animals, real and imaginary. This is an excellent theme, well worth exploring, and takes us into the world of the medieval bestiary. They have got around the fact that much of the charm of these books is their illustrations by producing an accompanying film which draws on more than 40 medieval bestiaries to which a link is provided – this is a substantial entertainment in itself, running to more than an hour, beautifully constructed and with scholarly commentary in German with English subtitles, while also incorporating all the music on the CD. The ensemble make light of this technically demanding repertoire, producing performances which are musically satisfying and highly evocative. The solo voice is supported by harp, vielles, viola d’arco and lute, producing sparse but engaging textures as well as enjoyable instrumental interludes. Since the establishment of the group in 2012, Ensemble Dragma has established itself as one of the leading medieval consorts in the field.
D. James Ross