Splendor da ciel

Rediscovered Music from a Florentine Trecento Manuscript
La Morra
Ramée RAM 1803

This CD is subtitled ‘rediscovered music from a Florentine Trecento manuscript’ but the remarkable story of the way in which this music survived as a palimpsest, overwritten with bureaucratic records when the music was no longer fashionable, meaning that it has had to be physically ‘recovered’, makes it all the more valuable a treasure. Music by known composers such as Piero Mazzuoli, Jacopo da Bologna, Paulo da Firenze, Hubertus de Salinis and Antonio Zacara da Teramo makes up just a small part of the 216 compositions preserved in the San Lorenzo Palimpsest. The final stage in what must have been an extraordinarily laborious procedure is the committing by La Morra of 17 of the pieces to CD, and it is hard to imagine a more capable group or a more triumphant outcome. The playing and singing of La Morra, a group springing originally from the seminal Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, is superbly idiomatic, expressive and technically impeccable, evoking vividly the manuscript’s early 15th-century context. In Scotland, we have generally made a more thorough job of disposing of our musical manuscripts, but in the case of one 16th-century church manuscript, The Inverness Fragments, pages of church music deemed superfluous were used as stuffing in the binding of a law book, and in due course they could be ‘recovered’ and reconstructed. We enjoyed the same thrill as we sang this ‘retrieved music’ as I am sure La Morra felt when this stunning Florentine music sprang back to life before their eyes.

D. James Ross

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