Discovered around 140 years ago in the library archives of the small Tuscan town of Cortona, the Laudario di Cortona is a 13thcentury manuscript containing 66 laude, or lauds: a type of vernacular song written for praise and worship. Unusually, around 46 of the lauds had been set to music, making this manuscript the oldest known collection of music written in the Italian vernacular. All the periods of the Christian calendar are represented, with lauds relating to the Nativity, Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost, showing the manuscript’s continued importance throughout the year. The document originated in the Brotherhood of Santa Maria delle Laude, a group of monks devoted to Marian worship. Indeed, themes surrounding the Virgin Mary are present in many of the lauds; Ave Maria, gratïa plena (Hail Mary, full of grace), for example, or O Maria, d’omelia se’ fontana (O Mary, you are the fount of sacred learning). Performing these medieval works is the vocal ensemble Armoniosoincanto. Experienced interpreters of early music, their research has led them to offer an authentic performance of the Laudario, although they admit to some artistic license with the use of mainly female voices, which evocatively call to mind the spirit of Mary, the mother of God. They are supported by Anonima Frottolisti, a prominent vocal group on the early music scene, as well as several musicians playing on copies of authentic instruments; these include a hurdy‐gurdy, a lute, a vielle (an early bowed instrument like a violin) and even a portative organ, a type of medieval organ with bellows that was designed to be carried. This is one of the few releases documenting the complete musical works of the Laudario di Cortona. Recorded in the church of the Monastero delle Suore Clarisse in Perugia, close to the manuscript’s origins in nearby Arezzo, this rich and musically affective document offers a fascinating insight into the remarkable culture of medieval Italy. The Laudario Di Cortona was discovered in the library of a monastery in Cortona, Italy. The 13th century manuscript contains a wealth of Laude
or Lauds, songs written in the popular language for praise and worship. Thematically they follow the liturgical year of Advent, Nativity, Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost. They are the earliest examples of sacred songs in the common language found in Europe.
The ensemble Armoniosoincanto makes use of Female voices, and is accompanied by a variety of contemporary instruments like hurdy gurdy, lute, vielle and a positive organ, thus presenting a lively and colourful rendering of these ancient songs of worship, enhanced by the atmospheric recording in the church of the Monastery delle Suore Clarisse in Arezzo.
The booklet contains extensive liner notes, full texts are available on www.brilliantclassics.com.
Recorded in 2013 and 2014 in the church of the Monastero delle Suore Clarisse, Perugia, Italy.
Contains liner notes and ensemble biography.
Contains details of the period instruments used for the performance.