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Baroque Voices 47 - Monteverdi: Sixth Book of Madrigals
The miracle of the beauty of these Monteverdi Madrigals lies in the perfect combination of music and text. The musical line is flexible and expressive. Each voice conveys exquisitely the moans, sighs and charm, beseeching, whispering and passion contained in the words. Here an aesthetic is elevated into an absolute art.
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Monteverdi - Madrigali Libro V & VI
Nuove Musiche, Krijn Koetsveld
In the 16th century madrigals were all the rage, and the country where the genre was perfected was Italy. The motet had reached Italy from the Netherlands and France during the previous 200 years, and had been infused with the ‘new’ polyphonic style of composition. Italy was also the country that had produced the greatest poetry of the Renaissance, including Petrach and Tasso.
The fusion of music and this wonderful poetry inspired many of the great Italian composersof the period such as Caccini, and most importantly Monteverdi.
The madrigals of Claudio Monteverdi represent the final development of the form and are without doubt the greatest examples. He composed eight books between 1585 and 1635. They are composed for a small vocal ensemble of five voices, with harpsichord and theorbo (a large lute) continuo.
Monteverdi’s genius as a composer of opera can be heard in the drama he creates in these madrigals. They can be described with some justification as mini operas.
Le Nuova Musiche was formed in 2004 and specialises in music from the first half of the 17th century. The members of the group are not only first class musicians, but have the benefit of in depth knowledge of the performing practices and manuscripts of the repertoire.
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Monteverdi: Il sesto libro de madrigali, 1614
“The performances are compelling, simultaneously controlled and imaginative. This is very demanding music to take to a deep level of interpretation. Delitiae Musicae goes beyond a ‘fine rendering’ of Monteverdi's intentions…. Instances of excellence are too numerous to describe here” American Record Guide
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Monteverdi: Il sesto libro de madrigali, 1614
“Alessandrini and his crew employ a tense, edgy rhetoric to reveal an inner psychology while sacrificing neither precision of ensemble nor beauty of sound. Concerto Italiano are now such a sensitive instrument that they respond to the emotional exigencies of the texts like silk to the breeze. Listen to the passionate terza parte of the Lamento d’Arianna; or the final line of Zefiro torna, where the drawn-out dissonances are almost physically painful… I could find a hundred such examples without ever conveying the many excellencies of this recording.” Gramophone
“Three things stand out about Alessandrini's version. First, his extraordinary feel for the words… Second, his revised edition which gives him access to newly revealed dissonances… And third, his generally upbeat tempos… which lend a marvellous freshness to 'Qui rise' and other tracks.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2006 ****
“Monteverdi's Sixth Book of Madrigals (1614) is significant for including both traditional polyphonic and stile nuove concerted madrigals. In his booklet-notes, Rinaldo Alessandrini points out that this is also a 'book of partings': many of the madrigals seem to have been written much earlier than the published date, at a time when Monteverdi suffered the loss of his wife Claudia and his live-in pupil, the singer Caterina Martinelli.
All the texts deal with loss both temporary or permanent – although it's touching to note that the final madrigal, Presso un fiume tranquillo, paints a lovers' reconciliation possibly emblematic of a Heavenly reunion.
When discussing this repertoire it's almost a cliché to say that Concerto Italiano's approach is analytical, La Venexiana's more broadly coalescent (on Glossa). However, this new recording really goes far beyond the supple elegance of line for which La Venexiana are famous, with Alessandrini and his crew employing a tense, edgy rhetoric to reveal an inner psychology while sacrificing neither precision of ensemble nor beauty of sound. Concerto Italiano are now such a sensitive instrument that they respond to the emotional exigencies of the texts like silk to the breeze. Listen to the passionate terza parte of the Lamento d'Arianna; or the final line of Zefirotorna, where the drawn-out dissonances are almost physically painful; or the incredible dynamic and rhythmic control in the Sestina; or the fluid, frighteningly accurate ornamentation in Qui rise, o Tirsi. You could find 100 such examples without ever conveying the many excellences of this recording.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
Monteverdi: The Complete Madrigal Books
Bonus CD: Live in Corsica, 2002 + Data: PDFs of all original booklets
Recorded between January 1998 and July 2006
The extraordinary series of recordings of the nine published books of madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi, by Claudio Cavina, with him directing (and singing in) the Italian ensemble La Venexiana, is now being made available in an advantageously-priced box set on Glossa. Completed in 2006, this multi-award winning cycle set new standards in textual declamation, rhetorical colour and harmonic refinement, reflecting the individual singers’ grasp of the compositional pearls created by Monteverdi's poetic gems, with works spanning half a century.
Some of the major works to be found in La Venexiana’s survey include the 'Lamento della ninfa', the 'Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda' and the 'Lamento d’Arianna'. An added attraction is the addition, as a bonus CD, of the 'Live in Corsica' album of Monteverdi madrigals recorded by La Venexiana in 2002.
This limited edition box set reflects Glossa’s innovative design style used for the individual volumes and includes all the original booklets as a pdf, plus a newly-commisioned essay from Stefano Russomanno, who wrote the notes for the individual volumes. He considers the entire span of these nine books, Monteverdi’s compositional development as a radical, if not reforming artist, and his devotion, above all, to the word.
“Don’t hesitate to snap up this limited edition box-set from Glossa – one of the most important Monteverdi releases of recent years.” Early Music Today, December 2014
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