Wenn wir einen Award für den Tonträger mit der besten Klangqualität vergeben würden, hätte "Canto de la vida" auf meiner Vorschlagsliste 2004 ganz oben gestanden.
Record Review /
Image hifi / 01. February 2005
Apoyado en las expresivas voces de Fadia-El-Hage y Pino de Vittorio, con perfecta pronunciación de nuestro idioma, el grupo Cycle ha optado por un acompañamiento basado puramente en la percusión, dotando al conjunto de un irresistible aire ancestral, donde se percibe incluso hasta el fuego ritual de la hoguera en tomo a la cual se cantaba esta música. El viaje comienza y termina con la misma canción Nochez, nochez, para dar la sensación de ciclo perfecto. Bellísimo.
Record Review /
Melómano (Madrid) / 01. October 2004
Song of Life
The present programme is both a journey through human life, with its moments of happiness, sadness and even absurdity, and a musical exploration of a vast historical and geographical area. Its aim is to present the musical traditions associated with the regions bordering on the Mediterranean as an unbroken unity and to allow listeners to feel for themselves the southern love of life. The songs performed here come from southern Italy, Sicily, the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, the Arab world, Egypt, North Africa, Spain and France. They tell of first love and marriage, daily marital life, quarrels and jealousy, and birth and death, and include drinking songs, dance songs and cradle songs.
The musical traditions of the Sephardi Jews span the whole of the Mediterranean and provide the framework for Canto de la vida’s mosaic of regional cultures. The Sephardi Jews are descendants of Portuguese and Spanish Jews who suffered persecution and, ultimately, exile from their homeland. It was on 2 August 1492 that the exodus of Spanish Jews began; within a matter of months the “Catholic Monarchs” Ferdinand and Isabella had driven more than 160,000 Jews out Spain in the most humiliating conditions. Many of them tried to start a new life on the coast of North Africa, but the majority fled to areas under the rule of the Ottoman Empire: Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Greece and the Balkans. Throughout the diaspora they steadfastly maintained the customs, music and language associated with their Spanish culture, which they passed down to later generations. The characteristic traditional songs of the Sephardim have always been the romansas sung in the Judeo-Spanish language of judezmo. Songs are an essential part of Sephardi communal life, and some of them have survived for more than five centuries. This living tradition has been much influenced by contact with the various languages and musical cultures of the countries in which the Sephardi Jews have lived: the polyglot Fel shara (no. 5) is a case in point. And the world of Sephardi life was almost always intermixed with local traditions. Not only were complete melodies taken over, as in Fel shara, which is sung to the well-known Turkish melody Üsküdar, but many other musical elements were incorporated into the traditional repertoire as well. These elements include the modal system found in Mi suegra (no. 11), which uses the Middle Eastern scale of the hijaz; rhythmic and metrical features like the Balkan 7/8 metre used in Kanta, gayo (no. 15); and melodic ornaments such as we find in Nochez, nochez (no. 1). At the same time, many new songs, including the Turkish tango Adio kerida (no. 20), have come into being and make up most of the repertoire that is still sung today.
Sephardi music is dominated by the female voice. It was always predominantly the womenfolk who passed on the Sephardi past to their daughters during the diaspora. Not until the 19th century did male musicians, generally in coffee shops and taverns, sing Sephardi songs such as the drinking song La vida do por el raki (no. 12).
Even today Sephardi singers of both sexes still use only the traditional frame drum, or pandero, to accompany themselves. Most Mediterranean musical cultures prefer singing that is accompanied solely by percussion and thus concentrates on essentials, namely, the narrative. Our own transcriptions build on this practice: we use rhythm instruments typical of each of the regions from which the songs and metres heard here are taken – for example, finger cymbals in Sou ’pa mana (no. 7) and a goblet drum in Hajarni habibi (no. 19).
A manuscript prepared in 1705 and emanating from André Danican Philidor’s workshop contains a number of Baroque drum works that we have arranged for traditional percussion instruments, thus symbolizing our attempt to combine early European notated music with the still living traditions of ethnic music that have been transmitted by word of mouth. At the same time these works divide our programme into individual sections, each of which is devoted to a different aspect of human life.
Judith Haug and Vladimir Ivanoff
(Translation: Stewart Spencer)
Cycle is a group of five musicians made up of two singers, who are widely regarded as experts in their native traditions but have also acquired an international reputation in popular and early music, and three percussionists, who are at home not only in the world of traditional, ethnic music but also in that of historical rhythm instruments.
Fadia El-Hage was born in Beirut and was 14 when she began her career as a singer. She studied singing and psychology in her native Lebanon, then went on to obtain her concert diploma from the Richard Strauss Conservatory in Munich in 1990. Since then she has appeared as a soloist with various ensembles, including Sarband, Vox, Zad Moultaka and Mesopotamia, and has also made numerous recordings in the most disparate musical styles.
The actor and singer Pino De Vittorio hails from Leporano (Italy) and began his career appearing in productions by the director Roberto De Simone. Since then he has performed in many theatres as well as at Italian and international festivals such as the Settimane Internazionali di Napoli and at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena. Since 1987 he has been a member of La Cappella della Pietà dei Turchini, an early-music ensemble that is particularly interested in Neapolitan music of the Renaissance and Baroque.
The French percussionist Marie-Ange Petit studied at the conservatories in Dijon, Créteil and Asnières, graduating with distinction and subsequently working as principal percussionist at the opera houses in Lille, Lyon and elsewhere. She specializes in the performance of early music on period instruments and has made more than 80 records of music extending from the Middle Ages to the present day under conductors of the stature of Sir John Eliot Gardiner, William Christie, Paul McCreesh, Marc Minkowski and Philippe Herreweghe. She has a special interest in scholarly research into percussion instruments.
The main aim of the Bulgarian musician Vladimir Ivanoff is to mediate between musicology and musical practice. He studied musicology in Munich and now teaches musicology, ethnomusicology and performance practice at several universities. His career as a practising musician began at the Musikhochschule in Karlsruhe and the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis affiliated to the Musikakademie of Basle, where he studied the lute and historical performance practice. He then went on to make a special study of percussion, before becoming music director of Sarband, Vox and L’Orient Imaginaire, while also taking part in radio and television broadcasts and making many recordings.
Stefan Wissmann studied orchestral music in Mannheim and Berlin, with timpani and percussion as his main subjects. While still a student he had already begun to take an interest in period performing practice. He is a founder member of the Schlierbach Chamber Orchestra, which has worked with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He is one of the most sought-after percussionists in the world of historical performing practice and has appeared with many of its leading ensembles, including the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, the Berlin Akademie für Alte Musik, the English Baroque Soloists, the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble, the Gabrieli Consort, Concerto Köln and Musica Antiqua Köln.