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Robert Carl
Fanfare, January 2012

The sound is warm and clear, and the whole production introduces and advocates the composer’s vision smartly. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

Jessica Duchen
Classic FM, November 2011

The Italian ensemble and especially solo cellist Vittorio Ceccanti bring the music prancing off the page…The CD box mentions this work’s ‘profound ritualistic expression’, yet the Italians never neglect the lighter, more humorous aspects. They come into their own swinging the end of the Purcell fantasia off its quirky wall.

Mark Sealey
MusicWeb International, October 2011

Linguae Ignis (‘Tongues of Fire’)…benefits from being held together in this performance by the richness and confidence of Ceccanti’s cello unabashed yet unmannered cello style: clean, pungent and open.

Vesalii Icones is just as dramatic, just as taut. Perhaps even more so. It’s a work that really benefits from also experiencing the contortions and gyrations of the dancer who is usually involved in live performances. It’s the visual and kinetic equivalent of the strangled utterances of the Mad King George, in Maxwell Davies’ piece of the same year. Although played without a break, the sanctus bells lend structure, and distinguish between the 14 sections, none of which lasts longer than five minutes.

Contempoartensemble is splendid…Their players distil the musicality, the melody, texture and particularly the pacing of Maxwell Davies’ spare scores in such a way that you feel you have really understood its essence. They have a far more thorough and engaging grasp of the juxtaposition of the ‘old and new’. They produce music that stands in its own right. What a refreshing approach.

The acoustic is immediate and close without being over intense. The liner-notes are to the point and clear. Amazingly, this is now the only recording of any of these works in the current catalogue; another reason for snapping it up without hesitation.

Stephen Eddins, September 2011

Vittorio plays with warmth and sensitivity…Mauro, leading Contempoartensemble, doesn’t shy away from letting Maxwell Davies’ zany stylistic leaps and overlaps make the maximum impact. Naxos’ sound is clean, vivid, and well-balanced.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2011

Having commissioned and recorded a series of string quartet from Peter Maxwell Davies, Naxos now move to his other works for chamber ensemble.  Many see him as something of an enigma, often writing music with the stated objective of linking with medieval plainsong, while the result stretches the understanding of concert audiences. Certainly Davies pushes boundaries forward, his work for solo cello and fourteen instruments, Linguae Ignis, described as an instrumental motet, is clothed in colours created by atonality. It is for the soloist a hugely demanding score performed by the same artists that gave the work its premiere in 2002. Dating from 1969, Vesalii Icones was the score that made a deep impression on the international scene and confirmed Davies as one of the most important 20th century composers. Davies often uses the sounds of ‘popular’ music to make a point, as here in two places while he relates the betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. That Davies does have a profound regard for the Baroque era. And beyond that, comes in the very attractive instrumental realisation of the Fantasia on a Ground and Two Pavans after Henry Purcell. The studio performances come from the highly regarded Italian group, Contempoartensemble, conducted by their founder Mauro Ceccanti. Working exclusively in music of our time they have the dedicated expertise in such challenging scores. The disc does not make clear why these 2004 recordings are just surfacing, but the sound is of excellent quality and with exceptional inner clarity.

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