Sulla Lira – The Voice of Orpheus

The change in musical style from the high renaissance to the early baroque around 1600 hinged on an ideal — to return to the purity of music of Ancient Greece. The concept of playing al modo d’Orfeo (in the style of Orpheus) actually arose around the early 1500’s, and continued to gain traction in Italy as the century progressed.

The style of Orpheus — a single voice accompanied by a lyre — is the focus of this new release by Le Miroir de Musique. In it, they show how much range of expression was available in this seemingly limited format.

First, the concept of what a “lyre” actually was changed over time. The lire da braccio (looking like a flattened viola) was the instrument of choice in the 1530’s. It evolved into the lira da gama, although the oval vielle, chitarrone, and lute were all considered legitimate alternatives.

Le Miroir de Musique presents settings using all of these instruments, providing contrast from track to track. And tenor Giovanni Cantarini and soprano Maria Cristina Kiehr also provide variety by alternating selections.

In the style of Orpheus, the words are paramount; it’s the beauty of the poetry that matters. Both singers deliver, effectivily conveying the emotion of the text.

Selections range from anonymous works to those by some of the leading composers of their day, such as Giulio Caccini, Alessandro Striggio, and Bartolomeo Tromboncino. And the works are arranged in mostly chronological order, so you can hear how the style developed as the disc plays on.

Highly recommended for lovers of early music and of the early baroque.

Sulla Lira: The Voice of Orpheus
Le Miroir de Musique
Ricecar 354

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