“laReverdie, Laudarium: Songs of Popular Devotion from 14th Century Italy” –  laReverdie – Arcana A379, (2 CDs) (11/18/14) [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

The lauda, a musical-poetic genre first developed at the time of Saint Francis of Assisi, perhaps by him, is historically the oldest expression of Italian popular musical culture from the Middle Ages. In this double CD set the young Italian early music ensemble laReverdie presents an anthology of Italian monophonic laude from the two principal sources for this repertoire, the manuscripts of Cortona (ca. 1270) and Florence (ca. 1320).

Both manuscripts took as their main themes the cult of the Virgin Mary and the devotion of the Saints. Along with recorded performances of many pieces from the Florence manuscript never before recorded, this set includes a presentation booklet with wonderful color photographs of laReverdie in costume during a performance; there are also detailed introductory essays illustrating the methods of musicological research involved in the reconstruction of this repertoire, and the social, historical, cultural and religious contexts upon which laReverdie has founded its interpretative approach. The music-making is exquisite as one would expect from a young Italian early music ensemble that in 2010 at the Ravenna Festival, together with Gérard Dépardieu, presented a specially-created program of music and selected readings from the Confessions of St. Augustine in the Basilica of Santa Apollinare in Classe, a famed monument of Byzantine art.

These recordings were made in 1994 and 1999 at two different Italian churches and are audiophile following the standards set by French Harmonia mundi in its early days: totally natural sound, simply made, in superb acoustical spaces.


Laude di Sancta Maria

1 – Venite a Laudare

2 – Ave Maria (antiphon)

3 – Verbum Patris hodie

4 – Die ti salvi Regina

5 – Voi ch’amate

6 – Or piangiamo

7 – Dulcis Jesu memoria / Jesu nostra redemptio

8 – Onne homo

9 – D.D. Sherwin: Diana stella

10 – Chi vuol lo mondo

11 – Troppo perde’l tempo

12 – Ortorum virentium / Virga Yesse

13 – Con la madre

14 – Ave maris stella (sequenza)

15 – Ave Donna sanctissima

16 – Assumpta est Maria (antiphon)

17 – Ave Regina gloriosa

—Laurence Vittes