This was an album that I missed when it was first released: Then at first I thought it simply hadn't appeared in the US, but it turns out it had: The release listing didn't include the subtitle, I didn't remember the name of the ensemble (as having already released a medieval program), and I didn't give the title itself any mind. So I learned of the album later, upon encountering someone else discussing it, and this opening note is basically a combination of apology & complaint. (I've also decided not to add a belated entry to the "remarks on recent recordings" page, so this remark will stand here, at least for a while.)
Really though, I should just stop grousing.... Hopefully I will continue to find, eventually at least, items I will appreciate.
This is an interesting, and relatively broad program of Trecento music, seemingly not so different in its repertory priorities than those of e.g. Ensemble Syntagma (whose two albums on different labels I might be tempted to treat more as a unit at this point). So it's a fairly generic program, albeit with several highlights. What sets it apart is the all-vocal performance.
I've enjoyed many all-vocal performances of music from this era, paradigmatically starting with Gothic Voices, but I've also never considered them to be the only — or even necessarily best — approach. Such misgivings were especially true for the Italian repertory, particularly as Gothic Voices was rather stiff in this material (to pick on them again, I guess). However, despite some initial misgivings (and these might have derived from my irritation at having come to this recording only later, in fairness), including about the resonant recording space, I've come to find the all-vocal survey to be quite enjoyable & worthwhile.
Although I'm (still) not advocating for exclusivity, this is a real step forward in all-vocal performance of Trecento music (adding to many excellent individual tracks on other programs).
To medieval secular listTodd M. McComb