Monteverdi's madrigals were the laboratory in which he sought the connections between music and the emotions, and none are more moving and evocative than those of his eighth and final book, the "Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi," (1638). This release offers only a selection, but puts the music's drama in gratifyingly high relief. It's a beautifully sung, ravishingly played and lushly recorded collection, "Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi," by Jordi Savall and La Capella Reial de Catalunya (Astree E 8546). Dynamics are supple, coloration is flexible and expressive dissonances are pointed up in a way that gives works like "Lamento della Ninfa" and "Gira il nemico" an unusually vivid edge.
"For the non-specialist," observed Early Music World, "detailed consideration of Marenzio's large body of madrigals remains a vain quest in the light of the lack of comprehensive accessibility to either printed or recorded music." This release from Spain's Glossa label helps rectify the situation with precise yet stylistically sensitive performances of a key set of Luca Marenzio madrigals from the vocal group La Venexiana.
A fascinating compilation detailing the highly expressive music of Prince, composer and murderer Carlo Gesualdo - one of history's most colorful figures. Gesualdo's first six books of madrigals remain his best-known music.
La Compagnia del Madrigale’s subtle, yet powerful advocacy of great Italian madrigals continues with Marenzio's 'Quinto Libro di Madrigali a sei voci' from 1591. Their previous recordings including the recent award-winning 'Primo Libro', have demonstrated their fresh approach, imbued with invaluable years of experience in other groups such as La Venexiana and Concerto Italiano. From 2016 La Compagnia have been invited to join the concert season at Wigmore Hall. Marenzio’s 'Quinto Libro' was dedicated to Virginio Orsini, Duke of Bracciano, on the occasion of his marriage to Flavia Peretti: a wedding album full of the latest musical and poetical techniques.
The music on this disc comes from Rome in the middle seventeenth century, and it is seemingly, to use a word that recurs several times in the dense but informative booklet, paradoxical. Domenico Mazzocchi (1592-1665) was a composer who worked at the feet of popes. Yet the music here is stylistically of the sensuous seconda prattica, the operatic art of Monteverdi and his cohorts in the generation before. If the term "Counter Reformation" brings to mind music like Palestrina's, know that you get something very different here, something closer to the religious masterworks of Monteverdi's later career but on a more intimate scale.
The elegant rhetoric betrays Gesualdo's aristocratic background, and its internal contradiction neatly reflects the baffling ingenuity of his work, whose dissonances were literally centuries ahead of his time, their bold gambits regarded with suspicion by his 16th-century peers, and even now testing the imagination and ingenuity of even as accomplished a team as the Hilliard quartet.
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.