Francesco LANDINI. L'Occhio del Cor —
La Reverdie / Christophe Deslignes
Songs of Invisible Love
medieval.org | outhere-music.com | amazon.com
Release: 24 May 2019
29 May 2019
Todd M. McComb
[Let me also take a moment to discuss a couple of other recent releases devoted to key 14th & 15th century repertory, even as my thoughts will be briefer & perhaps more ambivalent....
The new Orlando Consort album ...]
In contrast to the Orlando Consort, La Reverdie is a group that hadn't been very active lately (& indeed I'd mainly thought of their recent releases as reissues), but now takes up some core repertory in L'Occhio del Cor — devoted to Landini: The program takes an autobiographical approach around blindness, selecting songs that refer to sight — including in various metaphorical guises, to yield a distinctive sense of period perceptual hierarchy (in my terms from elsewhere). This involves six first recordings of Landini songs, for instance, making the program of particular note from a discographic perspective.
And the liner notes are similarly detailed in the sense of discussing individual song content, but very little on performance style. (In fact, that section of the notes focuses on spelling, which was a surprising orientation for me — not that it doesn't provide guidance on articulation & phrasing, but a desire to come back to a focus on actual spelling seemed novel....)
In this case, I tend to associate La Reverdie with the relatively simpler laud repertory of the period, although they've done more "academic" programs too (but not previously devoted to Landini, which kind of surprised me...), and the phrasing & articulation often tend to emphasize short phrases & to seek regular, even danceable rhythms.
In contrast, Christophe Deslignes is incredibly fluid on organetto, and perhaps it was the possibility of this pairing that inspired their "return" to this repertory.... I enjoyed both Deslignes' phrasing & basic sound (very like a wind instrument) very much, and perhaps he makes the rest of the ensemble (which employs quite a bit of doubling as well) seem lacking in agility in comparison....
Although the new look at Landini is still welcome, I didn't get much musical insight on his work as a result. (E.g. the raw, emergent power of a Micrologus seems to be missing.) Somehow a lightness of individual tone combines into what seems like a heavy handed ensemble sound, with linear tension almost becoming an afterthought (other than in contrast with the organetto).