COMPOSERS: Agricola,etc; Writings Of Ficino,Ghizeghem,Isaac,Josquin,Obrecht,Tromboncino
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Secrets of the Heavens
PERFORMER: Mark Rylance (reader), Catherine King (mezzo-soprano), Mark Tucker (tenor); Marini Consort
CATALOGUE NO: RVRCD 53
Too little detail survives to produce an accurate reconstruction of the 15th-century Ficino’s Orphic singing. However, this disc offers a plausible simulacrum of the extemporised invocations that animated the philosopher-musician’s aim ‘to harmonise the human soul with the cosmos and remind it of its true origins in God’, as the booklet notes have it.
Following a lively account of a Sapphic Ode to music by Gaffurius, seven tableaux present invocations to the sun, moon and the planets. Warmly spoken narrative from Ficino’s writings, aptly improvised Orphic Hymns and well-chosen music by composers of the period vividly illuminate the individual characteristics and emotional influence of each planet.
Dry recorded sound creates a rather earthbound effect, especially in the spoken passages, but the spontaneous virtuosity and taut rhythmic precision of the musical performances are genuinely persuasive. The quicksilver florid embellishments given to Mercury, the timeless sensuousness of Venus, fiery aggressiveness of Mars, slow-moving solemnity of Jupiter, and plaintive gravitas of Saturn make a powerful theatrical impact. Not the complete musical experience of Holst’s The Planets; nevertheless the neat weave of intellectual and spiritual strands in this programme will be a real attraction for those listeners who regularly seek guidance from their horoscopes. Nicholas Rast