Recording of the Week Monteverdi as you've never heard it before!
Prepare to be slightly shocked this week as, unless you’re already familiar with the harpist and lutenist Christina Pluhar and her group l’Arpeggiata, I doubt you’ve heard Monteverdi sound anything like this before...
This new release, just out on Virgin Classics, aims to celebrate Monteverdi’s music through experimentation and improvisation. And while purists may find it all rather alarming, it is so well performed that I think the majority of people (whether familiar with Monteverdi or not) will find it hard not to be drawn in by the freshness, inventiveness and spontaneity.
Claudio Monteverdi was born in 1567 in Cremona, and was a hugely important composer in the development of a number of different musical genres, including opera. His music displays a remarkable diversity of compositional techniques and he masters and interweaves them with supreme skill. His music was considered very modern in its time and he spent much of his life battling against critics who objected to his use of chromaticism, unprepared dissonances, and ornaments. It is maybe therefore not wholly inappropriate to be re-inventing his music to sound more ‘modern’ to today’s ears, particularly as Monteverdi argued that music should above all appeal to the listener’s feelings.
The thing that makes this disc really outstanding is the quality of the singers and instrumentalists. Counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky sings his slower numbers particularly exquisitely and they all perform with such a natural sounding affinity to the music that even the more extrovert moments don’t sound out of place. This is I suspect because most of what they do stems from what is in the score, whether it be the jazz style walking bass lines, the repetition of single notes or the dissonances. Their technical brilliance and musicianship is astonishing; the players convey a sense of utter conviction in what they are doing.
I’ve put a couple of tracks on for you to listen to below and hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I have been.
Nuria Rial (soprano), Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor), L’Arpeggiata, Christina Pluhar
Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC