According to the liner notes, the purpose of this release is to “uncover the fine thread of cultural exchange between high art music and popular music tradition.” Sure, I could hear that. You can also enjoy this release as a great collection of early music hits.
I use the word “hits,” because many of these selections are well-represented in recordings. The selections from Michael Praetorius’ “Terpsichore” are prime examples. And the selections from Cabezòn, Ortiz, and Vásquez I have on other releases.
But the Ensemble Mezzo is true to its purpose. This release also includes music from French Baroque composer Charpentier, and early Italian masters Claudio Monteverdi and Barabar Strozzi. And it also has some Greek traditional dances.
And hearing all of this music together — late Renaissance, early/middle Baroque, and folk –brings out the connections between them.
The Ensemble Mezzo plays in an energetic fashion, with a slightly rough edge to the sound. It sounds perfectly authentic for the dance and folk pieces. And it pulls the “high art” pieces a little bit closer to the ground — and helps highlight that connectedness between the works.
If you’re just looking for a program of well-performed early music, Fiori Musicali satisfies. If you’re looking for insights, that’s where Ensemble Mezzo’s program really delivers.
Fiori Musicali: Songs and Dances of the 16th and 17th Centuries