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CD Feature/ Tibicines: "Battalia!"

img  Tobias

Let’s just forget that medieval battles were ferocious and bloody, killed thousands and left millions homeless, displaced, without father, mother or children. Not because it isn’t true, but because this album selects some of the pieces which were written from a very different perspective – that of the tireless trumpets, the couragious composers and the myriads of musicians marching side by side with soldiers and horses, forging ahead fearlessly like a drilled and disciplined dynamo.

Yet, “Battalia!”, for most of its sixty minutes of music, stays at a secure distance, watching from the hilltops down on the fields of honour. The ancient form of the bataglia was less intended at practical performances in front of the troops or to sustain moral and spirits, but rather constituted a sort of musical historiography: Like collectors placing toy soldiers on self-built battle grounds, these composers, mostly unknown to current listeners, wrote scripts to imaginary battles. Their works let the two camps enter the arena, prepare for the encounter and then come to a head-on collision – all by the use of onomatopoeia and the typical military instruments, such as trumpets, horns and drums. You might as well say that the orchestra is fighting it out in the concert hall on this occasion and that this sanguine, yet spirited program lends a refreshing, powerful and electrifying mood to the affair. Your whole body is in a state of constant attack, but at the same time it is swept into action, be it by physical movement (this should be great music for jogging) or by allowing your mind to wander. Contrary to expectations, the album is neither enervating, nor too samey: Every once in a while, a drum solo will kick in, a majestic or more tranquil theme will be blown or instrumentations will change and add more colour to the brass-heavy arrangements – especially Orlando di Lasso’s vocal piece loosens things up nicely in the middle. And in last track, the imaginary fence between the listener, the music and its source of inspiration is finally torn down: The sounds of bombards and cannons, the screams and the explosions and the triumphant hymn of the victorious side flow into a miniature battle of epic proportions – which will probably sound even more heroic when listened to in Surround Sound, instead of Stereo.

At the end, you feel cleansed and ready to continue your day with new-found focus. Maybe this is because, as in computer games, this return to our primitive instincts releases some of our soul’s rubble and cleanses the leanses of perception. Maybe it’s just because this music is fun to listen to, loud and sentimental and full of great hooks. Whatever the reason, it’s a mighty wake up call and an inspiring album to boot.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Arts Music

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