The multiple influences that Sicily has undergone during the course of the centuries have left their imprint in the various traditions of the island. We are here discussing music, but in other fields of artistic and scientific endeavour these influences are also evident. Merely walking through some of the Sicilian villages will bring this home. For this reason, the present recording presents us with a wide range of these musical influences in medieval works. From traditions linked to the sphere of Muslim influence (it is not by chance that the CD begins and ends with a muezzin’s call to prayer) to carnival songs in the purest Mediterranean tradition. Here, perhaps, in these songs springing from the very deepest oral roots, is the most interesting part of the recording. Counterpoint is represented by a series of conductus and tropes from a manuscript copied on the island in the 12th century, preserved today in the National Library of Madrid (Ms. 19421), known as the Troparium of Catania, an interesting source which also transmits some liturgical dramas. The songs taken from this liturgical manuscript contrast stylistically with the other pieces. The instruments accompany discreetly and efficiently, but the voices almost always sound forced. In the pieces from popular tradition (such as, for example, A la viddanisca, with its incipient cantus planus binatim, a kind of simple polyphony) this timbre works well, but in the liturgical repertoire it sits strangely. On the other hand, the addition of attractive instrumental pieces and the inclusion of a jaw’s harp accord a special colour to the recording.
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