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Homage To Johannes Ciconia (1370-1412)
Ensemble Project Ars Nova
Homage To Johannes Ciconia (1370-1412)
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #1

Homage To Johannes Ciconia (1370-1412) by Ensemble Project Ars Nova


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CD Details

All Artists: Ensemble Project Ars Nova
Title: Homage To Johannes Ciconia (1370-1412)
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: New Albion Records
Release Date: 11/18/2009
Genres: Pop, Classical
Styles: Vocal Pop, Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Baroque (c.1600-1750), Early Music
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 022551004825


Album Description
Homage To Johannes Ciconia (1370-1412) by Ensemble Project Ars Nova

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CD Reviews

Perennial Favorite
John Bromka | Marcellus, NY USA | 02/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"February 2004: 10 years old and still no Amazon review? Shocking!
I've been listening to this album regularly over these last 10 years, and must say this is one of my favorite recordings of any kind of music, and certainly one of the best recordings of early music ever made.
Ciconia is amazingly weird by any reading, but here with the passionate voices and luminous instruments of PAN, we are treated to the ultimate in otherworldly tranport. The intense polyphony and polyrhythms will split your brain in 3 parts and send eack one packing in a different direction, dancing all the way."
A masterpiece of early music arrangement and performance
Eddie Konczal | 04/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Johannes Ciconia (c. 1370-1412) was a composer with one foot in the late Middle Ages and the other taking a strong step towards the early Renaissance, and as such his music exhibits qualities of both ages. Ciconia is sometimes considered an early Renaissance composer due to the rhythmic complexity of his music and his mastery of the "formes fixes" that dominated Renaissance secular song. However, Ciconia's polyphony lacks the harmonic advances developed by his English contemporaries, and as such, his music often exhibits a medieval flavor. It was not until Guillaume Dufay (c. 1397-1474) united the developments of Ciconia with those of the English composers that the Renaissance style came to full flower.

Project Ars Nova confronts the dichotomy of Ciconia's style head-on, beginning this disc with the Medieval-sounding instrumental "Istampita 'Amor per ti sempre" and following it up with the vocally complex "Cacando un giorno." The rest of the CD weaves through a colourful variety of Ciconia's compositions: motets, balata, rondeaus, virelais and madrigals (not to be confused with the late 16th century variety) are all performed. Highlights include the lovely "O Rosa Bella," the various settings of "Le ray au soleyl," the lush polyphony of "Suse une fontayne," and the virtuosic motets that end the album, "Doctorum principem-Melodia suavissima-Vir mitis" and "O virum omnimoda-O lux et decus-O beate Nicholae."

The performers of the Project Ars Nova, undeterred by the complexity of Ciconia's music, rise to the challenge on every track. The singers deftly navigate the melismas (rapidly running melodies), hockets (melodies in which different vocalists sing alternating notes), and other melodic devices that Ciconia mastered. PAN's instrumental expertise captures the mystique of Ciconia's era; close your eyes and it's easy to imagine you're back in the year 1400. The disc sequencing cleverly balances vocal and instrumental arrangements, offering the listener just enough relief from the florid melodies that sometimes threaten to overwhelm one's ears.

"Homage to Johannes Ciconia" is a masterpiece of early music arrangement and performance, and offers an excellent overview of the career of an often-overlooked composer."
Double Five! for the Music and the Ensemble
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 01/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you've ever for a moment supposed that the people who choose to perform Medieval music, from which they are unlikely to get rich, are therefore second-rate musicians, lacking the virtuosity and training of symphony players or opera singers, just the first two tracks of this album should change your mind decisively. Both the singers and the instrumentalists of Ensemble Project Ars Nova handle the fiendishly difficult music of Ciconia and other ars subtilior composers with total authority. The polyrhythmic complexity of this repertoire has never been exceeded, and the exposed imtitative passagework at breakneck speed requires singers whose tuning is flawless, whose ability to "sing into each other" is phenomenal, and whose vocal flexibility exceeds the requirements even of operatic bel canto. Some of these caccias and motets remind me of the standard quip about the coloratura arias of Mozart's Queen of the Night: 'just to be able to sing it at all is a miracle, let alone to sing it well.' Soprano Laurie Monahan and counter-tenor Michael Collver sing it very well indeed. John Fleagle has the perfect voice and sensitivity to ensemble for his supporting role, singing the "tenor", that is, the melodic structural line in early polyphony like these pieces. Now that "samples" are available on amazon, I don't feel a need to explain this music so much. I'm just delighted to find that this CD, probably PAN's best,is still available. PAN was the most artful and skillful Medieval ensemble of our times; it's a tragedy that they have ceased to concertize and record. Get their disks while you can!

A word to anyone who depreciates counter-tenors. Listen to Michael Collver and learn why the high male voice was, and is, valued for "early music". Michael is a gruff Southern California surfer dude in his street persona. A very skilled performer on the Renaissance cornetto, he uses his high register voice as athletically as he plays his horn - the same divisions and ornamentations, the same "riffs" of melismatic color. If you can't respond to the virility and artistry of Michael's singing, a pox on your genes!

Instrumentalist Crawford Young and Steven Lundahl perform on their exotic string instruments as fluently as any modern guitarist or fiddler also. Just enough "jazzy" saltarello-like instrumental music is included on the disk to highlight their skills and to set off the complex, intellectual motets, in which the singers often weave together three distinct texts, perhaps even in differnt languages. There are no secondary lines in this music; every 'voice' has to maintain its expressive independence, and yet mix and match with exquisite timing.

John Fleagle has passed away of cancer since this album was released. He was a man of charm and generosity. His friends and fellow musicians will never forget him.