Collection: La Tarantella

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COMPOSERS: Traditional music from the Kingdom of Naples
LABELS: Alpha
WORKS: Traditional music from the Kingdom of Naples
PERFORMER: Lucilla Galeazzi, Marco Beasley, Alfio Antico (voice); L’Arpeggiata/ Christina Pluhar
CATALOGUE NO: 503 (distr. www.alpha-prod.com)

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This compilation focuses on the traditional tarantella – the southern Italy ritual dance, thought to act as an antidote to the venom of the tarantula’s bite and often mentioned in 17th- and 18th-century writings. Taking these vivid accounts of folk culture as their point of departure, the members of L’Arpeggiata have put together some attractive and stylish arrangements of tarantellas, interweaving them with traditional songs, inventive improvisations and even some new works in keeping with the early ‘folk’ style.

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The music is seductive – lyrical, rhythmically exhilarating and at times affectingly poignant as it speaks of dying traditions and the intensity of life in remote rural communities. Italian singers Lucilla Galeazzi and Marco Beasley clearly have a natural affinity with this repertoire, and they draw out all the raw passion, melancholy and earthy sensuality that forms part of its allure. They’re accompanied by a team of international virtuosi, whose ‘thousand twanging instruments’ include the ‘colascione’ (an exotic long-necked lute), the ‘chitarra battente’ – the southern Italian guitar with a distinctive, brittle sound – harps, viols, archlutes and a battery of percussion instruments. Though essentially a disc of traditional music, these subtle, historically informed arrangements and the sincerity and finesse of the performances should appeal to many tastes. Kate Bolton