Theodora Baka - Nell' Autunno di Bisanzio

Theodora Baka - Nell' Autunno di Bisanzio
Nell' Autunno di Bisanzio
Recording Location:
Andreaskirche Berlin Wannsee
Vocal Music
Recording Date:
February 4, 2010 - February 7, 2010
Release Date:

The mixed German and Italian titles on the cover of this Greek release may puzzle English speakers. "Zwischen Orient und Occident" means "between the Orient and the West," while "Nell 'autunno di Bisanzio" means "in the autumn of Byzantium." Thus the "Orient" referred to is not Asia in the conventional sense in modern English but the Byzantine world, which was returned to Islamic control during the career of Guillaume Dufay.

To connect these two facts is an ambitious undertaking, and one that the groups Ex Silentio and Ensemble Arkys (instrumental and vocal, respectively) don't completely deliver on. Yet there's an angle here that few others have pursued, and serious fans of the early Renaissance should give this a listen. There are several musical connections. First of all, the fall of Constantinople to the Turks under Sultan Mehmet II in 1453 was big news, and Dufay wrote a unique Latin polyphonic song about it, sort of a chanson-motet. This is the "Lamentation sanctae matris ecclesiae Constantinpolitanae" (track 10), and it's rarely performed. Further, Western scholars fleeing the city landed in Italy and contributed a direct knowledge of Greek ideas to what became known as the Renaissance. This isn't really audible in the music here, but their contributions in pushing secular song toward the direct expression of affect were one source of later developments. There seems to be an oblique suggestion that the direct language of some of Dufay's chansons is attributable to the presence of ancient Greek ideas in the air, but even this is debatable. Without a solid direct musical influence to work on here, the performers instead include several works connected with the Council of Ferrara in 1438, an event at which Western and Eastern scholars mingled for the first time. The casual listener will hear only a range of Dufay-style Flemish polyphony, with a small, mixed-gender adult vocal group accompanied by a slightly larger and more variegated instrumental ensemble than usual, but the student trying to picture Dufay's world will be aided by this intriguing album, which is notable not least for its provenance: few Greek musicians have become involved with early music, but their potential contributions are limitless.

Se liese est de ma partie / Johannes Le GrantTheodora Baka5:00
Ce jour de l'an / Guillaume DufayTheodora Baka2:12
Seigneur Leon / Guillaume DufayTheodora Baka2:13
Vassilissa ergo gaude / Guillaume DufayTheodora Baka2:47
Francorum nobilitati / Beltrame FeragutTheodora Baka3:24
Ave maria / Beltrame FeragutTheodora Baka2:25
C'est bien raison / Guillaume DufayTheodora Baka12:52
Falla con misuras / Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro (Giovanni Ambrosio)Theodora Baka1:34
Las que feray? / Guillaume DufayTheodora Baka4:26
Lamentatio sanctae matris ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae / Guillaume DufayTheodora Baka3:19
Threnos / Manuel ChrysafesTheodora Baka9:50

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