Tuesday 11 September 2018

The Unknown Traveller at the Treehouse - Fieri Consort launches its second CD

The Fieri Consort
The Fieri Consort
On Sunday 9 September 2018 we went along to the Shoreditch Treehouse for the launch of the Fieri Consort's second disc. The group's first disc, Tears of a Lover [see my review] had been a daring combination of Monteverdi madrigals (the Lamento d'Arianna sequence) with modern madrigals from composer Ben Rowarth. I was pleased that for this new disc, the group had stayed with the same formula without becoming formulaic. On the new disc The Unknown Traveller we hear Ben Rowarth's four-movement sequence Short Walk of a Madman alongside madrigals from Musica Transalpina.

On Sunday we were treated to three of the four movements from Rowarth's piece. Though technically a setting of poems by e.e.cummings, there are other texts too and it is the harmony and texture of the pieces which comes over, rather than the words. Rowarth is interested in the journey through the work, as the eight voices move from multiple tonalities to a sense of communual being. The result is complex and challenging, and rather thrilling. I can't wait to hear the full work.

We also heard madrigals by Ferrabosco, Palestrina and Byrd, all from Musica Transalpina which was a highly influential collection of madrigals published in 1588 in England by publisher Nicholas Yonge. The madrigals were all published in English versions, with the translator using word for word English versions so English musicians could easily appreciate the way Italian composers married text to music. The fascinating thing is that this translator is unknown, and this gave rise to the disc's name The Unknown Traveller.

Hearing this music in English, rather than Italian, made a striking difference to our perceptions of the pieces, and made you realise quite how important the text and language is to the Italian (and English) madrigal form.

The Unknown Traveller is available from 17 September 2018 from the Fieri Consort's website, and will receive wider distribution from October 2018.

The Fieri Consort is Lucy Cox, Hannah Ely, Helen Charlston, Nancy Cole, Tome Kelly, Josh Cooter, Ben McKee, David Maguire.

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