Mala Punica, Pedro Memelsdorff
Narcisso Speculando
Harmonia Mundi (

cd cover Sacred music seems to dominate the libraries of the rennaissance but composers who left purely secular work are also visible. The abbot and tenorista Paolo da Firenze produced innovative allegorical madrigals of unsurpassed sophistication for an early 15th century Florentine intellectual elite. The Brazilian born flautist and director Pedro Memelsdorf and his group Mala Punica recreate eight of these and supply three intricate period instrumentals for dancing, or istampita. The madrigals are actually very short ballads or stories and touch on a variety of metaphors such as shipwrecks, ladies & falconry, and goddess infatuation. Fair and wise play in courtly love gets the most attention here but also a war victory celebration, and the contemplation of Narcissus. The work of Mala Punica has come to feature the highest caliber of technical accomplishment serving some of the more unusual and arcane treasures of the Rennaissance, laid out in radical but elevating, exquisite presentations. The group consists here of four vocalists (two sopranos, counter tenor & tenor) and a small orchestra of eight (violins, harps, chitarrino, trumpet & bells). The four singers Tina Aagaard, Elisa Franzetti, Alessandro Carmiginani and Gianluca Ferrarini all turn in frighteningly difficult performances with great facility. The chamber players are equally adept but are called on sparingly to add perfect dimension to each song. The net effect, as with earlier recordings, is a richly filigreed soundworld, delicate, masterfully musical and clothed in the holy dark & light of cloister acoustics, which gives their art a character beyond mere concert, almost touching the lightpower of mass or high ritual. Though this is at times ponderously effusive music for virtuosos, it is also momentous, delicate and rewarding. Each listen only deepens the sense of it's beauty and labor, a wonder experience comparable to the admiration of intensely decorated architecture. - Steve Taylor

Available from Amazon

Hollow Ear

© 2002 Hollow Ear/FNI Multimedia. No reproduction of any part of this page or its associated files is permitted without express written permission.