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La Tarantella
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  • Christina Pluhar and L'Arpeggiata have again assembled an immensely entertaining album of (mostly) early music, performed with infectious liveliness and the highest artistic standards. La tarantella explores the familiar southern Italian myth that the bite of the tarantula could be cured only when the sufferer was exposed to certain types of music. The album includes a broad range of pieces from that tradition, including pastoral songs and passacaglias, as well as the manic dances generally associated with the effects of tarantism. Pluhar and her soloists Lucilla Galeazzi, Alfio Antico (both of whom contribute original songs to the collection), and Marco Beasley clearly understand that the roots of this music are in popular culture and perform with an unrestrained enthusiasm, even wildness, most often associated with pop stars. The results are always completely engaging and sometimes astonishing. (On a bonus track, in fact, the disc includes a cover of Madonna's "Hung Up," performed not by L'Arpeggiata, but taken from another Alpha album, featuring the a cappella group Les Cris de Paris, and it fits right in with the spirit of this CD.) The sound is clean and vivid. Because of its historically informed performance practice and the obscure material, this is a CD that should be of interest to fans of early music. The earthy, spirited performances and immediately appealing repertoire would also make it an excellent jumping-in point for any listener curious about early music, but who felt insecure about knowing where to start. ~ Stephen Eddins
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