Camerata Mediolanense
Saturday 18th December 2004
Caffè Concerto

La Rose Noire have a habit of organising special events to celebrate the seasons, and this Winter Solstice festival was no exception. The programme featured a presentation of a new Italian role-playing game universe, a conference on the meaning of the rituals of rebirth in connection with the Winter Solstice, presented by the cultural association l'Albero del Mondo and a special concert from Camerata Mediolanense. This cult Italian act has not played in public for many years now and the Heimdallr staff just could not miss such an exceptional event. Especially as it was rumoured to be their last concert ever...

The festival took place in a back room of the Caffè Concerto, a trendy bar located in the heart of the old Modena, whose high vaulted ceilings offered a perfect acoustic for the music. Unfortunately, I do not speak Italian so I will not dwell upon the game presentation or the conference, which were followed by a small but attentive part of the audience.

A long dark ambient industrial soundtrack, served as an introduction to the concert whilst the musicians began to prepare the candle-lit stage. For this performance, Elena (piano and keyboards), Daniela (vocals), Trevor (vocals, sound effects and percussions), Marco (percussions) and Manuel (percussions), the historical members of Camerata Mediolanense were accompanied by Detti (cello and vocals) and a quartet of singers (one male and three female) forming a choir. As any person familiar with the music of Camerata Mediolanense can easily imagine, this extra stage assistance added another dimension to a unique performance of old and new songs that had not often, or even never, been played live before and some songs from the repertoire of Camerata Sforzesca but played in the style of Camerata Mediolanense.

The concert began with a two solemn baroque songs, sung by Trevor and then Daniela and accompanied by the piano, the choir and a few subdued percussions. They were followed by a long melancholic piece, played solely by Detti on cello and vocals. I have never heard these three songs before and I hope that they will feature on the forthcoming Camerata Sforzesca album. The concert continued in the same melodious vein, for two songs taken from the Inferno 7"s (CXV - CXXIII & XCVII - CVII) that were superbly interpreted by Daniela's soprano vocals, accompanied by the piano, the cello and the choir. A moment of pure beauty...

If the whole concert placed the emphasis on the voices, the next part of the performance saw the Camerata revert to a more classic Camerata Mediolonense sound, with Elena on keyboards and more prominent percussions, to play 'O forza divina de l'oratione' and 'Poverello, che farai', both songs taken from the Camerata Sforzesca repertoire.

The band returned to the Camerata Mediolanense repertoire with a magnificent interpretation of 'Salve, Mundi Domine, Caesar noster, Ave' (L'Alfiere); Trevor's tenor voice was superbly contrasted by the female voices of the choir whilst the percussions inexorably progressed in crescendo before leaving the finale to the vocals… This was followed by an intense and solemn version of 'Steganographia' (Musica Reservata), featuring Trevor once again on lead vocals, which concluded marvellously this more percussive passage.

Then it was Daniela's turn to become the centre of attention. Accompanied by Elena on piano, Detti on cello and the choir, she offered a splendid interpretation of 'La Madre Cattiva' (Musica Reservata) and another song that I did not recognise. A performance that had the audience captivated by the pure beauty of her soprano voice and the sensuality of her stage gestures.

A few lugubrious sound effects marked a caesura, while Elena called forth the mysterious guest... Francesca Nicoli, who joined the Camerata on stage for an impassioned three-voice version of the Ataraxia song 'Histrionia', accompanied by intense percussions... A spectacular conclusion to a performance that was heartily applauded by a rapturous audience.

No doubt encouraged by the warmth of the audience's reception, the Camerata returned on stage for a two-song encore. A superb 'Notturno' (Musica Reservata) with Daniela sole on vocals, accompanied only by Elena on piano, was followed by an impressive version of 'Il Trionfo di Bacco e Arianna' (Campo di Marte); the crashing percussions, unleashed at last, driving the performance to a breathtaking finale! Saluted, as it deserved to be, by a standing ovation from the audience, conscious of their privilege to have witnessed something exceptional and unique.

This fine night was concluded by an after party, with DJ sets from LaRoseNoire staff who spinned a selection of old gothic hits. The musicians mingled freely with the audience around the huge central bar, and a discussion with Elena revealed that, although this particular performance was no doubt unique in its genre, it was not the last concert ever of Camerata Mediolanense. Which is good news for the future...

Ian C.
Winter 2004/5

Camerata Mediolanense/Sforzesca :
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