Fra’ Diavolo: Music in the Streets of the Kingdom of Naples – Accordone – Arcana A359, 77:35 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:
This is an exceptionally interesting album (Brother Devil) that presents numerous songs of the period roughly corresponding to the years of the 16th-18th centuries in Naples, secular songs of varied provenance. There are three male singers that engage in this presentation, and the rather effusive and ultimately not very helpful notes (which talk too much about the almost “religious” experiences these players had in recreating the music, and in very flowery terms) don’t give us nearly enough information about the music itself, choosing instead to concentrate on the special and magical properties the performers bring to it.
The music deals mainly with secular themes like unrequited love, pleas to the Virgin Mary, a few purely religious songs, and other concerns of the peasantry of the day. It is “authentic” as can be expected in that instruments from the time period are used, but even the musicians admit that there has to be a certain amount of creativity that goes into the recreation of these songs, so in a sense they can be said to me very modern in concept as well. It doesn’t matter ultimately—though it took a while for them to grow on me, grow they did, and I suspect anyone with the patience and wherewithal to really absorb this music will end up with quite an appreciation of the music itself and the artistry behind it. Great sound, texts, translations, and a first class production overall.
— Steven Ritter