Monday, 19 November 2007
4. Francesco Landini - Ballatas and Songs (Late 14th Century)
Title: The Second Circle: Love Songs of Francesco Landini
Performer: Anonymous 4
Director: Anonymous 4
Length: 61 minutes
Francesco Landini was the most important composer of 1300's Italy and he is very well represented by this recording. Anonymous 4 do a great job at bringing to life Landini's quite complex polyphony, in this case it is unaccompanied and so what you get are the interplays between the four great voices of the female ensemble members.
There is a problem with this album, however and that is the lack of variety in terms of sound, as all the tracks are unaccompanied and they are all in a what are the quite similar forms of Ballata and Song, it becomes after a while quite hard to distinguish between the tracks, and if you get distracted it is easy not to have noticed that a track has passed by.
So, even though you kind of miss the trees in this forest, the forest is still a very beautiful thing, and in the end you get the sense of Landini, even if you don't get the sense of each individual piece. And the general feeling is of beauty, something quite similar to Hildegarde Von Bingen, but also quite distinct. Unlike in Hildegarde's antiphons the music here is polyphonic, making it more interesting in terms of the interplay of voices, this album however does not use instruments which really backed up Hildegarde's songs. Another major factor would be the fact that the songs here are all profane, even though as they are ballads, it is not immediately apparent that they are secular as they are anything but boisterous. But the overall feeling you get from the album is similar, even though this is a bit more homogeneous.
2. Echo La Primavera
3. Cara Mie Donna
4. Nella Mi'vita
Blind from childhood (an effect of contracting smallpox), Landini became devoted to music early in life, and mastered many instruments, including the lute, as well as the art of singing, writing poetry, and composition. Villani, in his chronicle, also stated that Landini was an inventor of instruments, including a stringed instrument called the 'syrena syrenarum', that combined features of the lute and psaltery, and it is believed to be the ancestor of the bandura.
According to Villani, Landini was given a crown of laurel by the King of Cyprus, who was in Venice for several periods during the 1360s. Probably Landini spent some time in northern Italy prior to 1370. Evidence in some of his music also points to this: he dedicated one motet to Andrea Contarini, who was Doge of Venice from 1368 to 1382; and in addition, his works are well-represented in northern Italian sources.
Here is something by Landini, even if it is accompanied and not present in the album... blame Youtube, still it is a Ballata and it is Landini, so it kinda counts: