The extraordinary figure of Claudio Monteverdi looms large in the history of 17th-century music. As well as being one of the founding fathers of opera, he left an essential corpus of eight books of madrigals. These works were always based on criteria of exceptional profundity and subject to the theoretical debates surrounding the so-called prima prattica and seconda prattica, or first and second practices, the former holding that the words were subservient to the music, the latter the opposite. Taking the second course, Monteverdi was able to push to its limits the impulse to break through any restrictions imposed by a text’s structural and conceptual qualities through the sheer power and beauty of his musical invention.
The hand-picked singers and instrumentalists of Quadro Asolano came together to perform both vocal and instrumental music from the 16th and 17th centuries, with a particular focus on the Venetian School. So although vocal pieces form the central focus of this album, a representative selection of instrumental works of the period is also featured, and illustrates the way such music was also developing during the first half of the 17th century, as it freed itself from its roots in vocal music and the dance.
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.