The Da Vinci Era: Masters of the Renaissance

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Issued too late to capitalize on the Da Vinci Code film bomb, this issue on the budget LaserLight label may still benefit from continuing strong sales of Dan Brown's novel. It's a capitalization operation all the way -- there are no notes at all, and no systematic effort to relate the music to the contents of Brown's book. In fact, it seems as though the compilers simply searched through available recordings of early music for composers with Italian names. (And they hit on Orlando di Lasso, who was not really an Italian.) Most of the music here dates from the late sixteenth century or the beginning of the seventeenth -- about a century too late for Leonardo, who died in 1519. Much of it is really Baroque music, not Renaissance music. Is there any good news? Yes! The label lucked into some decent recordings of music byGabrieli, Lasso, Monteverdi, Palestrina, and some other composers of polychoral brass music, late madrigals, or unaccompanied choral music. The groups involved are all German; perhaps the disc was licensed from a German label somehow. The Regensburger Domspatzen is a venerable children's choir, and the oddly named Hr-Brass, an offshoot of the symphony orchestra of the Hessischen Rundfunk or Hessian Radio, delivers clean renditions of the works for brass included. Insofar as this disc gets some decently performed early music into discount stores and the like, it's a good thing. But if you're looking for music to go with your reading of The Da Vinci Code, try Sony's The Secrets of Da Vinci instead.

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