Guido Morini is best known as the founder of Accordone, an ensemble devoted largely to early music, but he is also a composer. On the basis of this cantata/song cycle based on the Iliad, it's probably safe to say that among polystylists, Morini has few peers in the number of styles he is able to pack into a single composition. Monteverdi's influence is most evident, in a variety of manifestations, virtually a compendium of his stylistic developments, including prima prattica polyphonic madrigals, chaconne-based solo madrigals, and recitative, but it's also easy to hear Medieval chansons, Renaissance motets, Palestrina, music of the high Baroque and Classical eras, Satie, Stravinskian neo-Classicism, ardent pop ballads, Ennio Morricone, jazz, Arvo Pärt, flamenco, and so much more. The music is entirely tonal, and although the unexpected juxtapositions provide a great deal of contrast and interest, it's a lyrical and euphonious piece. Morini describes his work as kaleidoscopic, and part of the fun is following the stylistic intersections and cross-pollinations, such as the wacky but entirely successful jazz take on Monteverdi in the ninth movement, "Il Giudizio di Zeus." The topic is grim -- the Trojan War -- and the text by tenor Marco Beasley doesn't stint on violence and horror, but Morini's irreverent disregard for convention and consistency is balanced with more serious moments, so that the whole is effective and ultimately moving, and has its own kind of integrity in giving voice to the range of emotions expressed by the many characters in Homer's epic. The Hilliard Ensemble provides expert accounts of the polyphonic sections, but the bulk of the singing and recitation falls to Beasley, whose clear, unmannered voice and expressive versatility make him highly appealing in the variety of roles he takes. Nederlands Blazers Ensemble, which commissioned the 2009 piece as a companion to its 2002 commission, Una Odissea, plays with polish, high spirits, and pure tone. NBE's sound is clear and balanced with a warm sense of presence. The CD should be of strong interest to fans of lyrical polystylism and adventurous fans of melodically appealing new music.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins