To sense the emotional charge coursing through Carlo Gesualdo at the time when he was composing his Sixth Book of Madrigals, there is no better starting point than a thrilling new recording being issued on Glossa from La Compagnia del Madrigale. Some of the finest singers in the madrigal repertoire today – including Giuseppe Maletto, Daniele Carnovich and Rossana Bertini, and they have been refining their a cappella artistry over more than twenty years with groups such as La Venexiana and Concerto Italiano – now restore humanness, warmth, pictorial beauty and richness to one of the most complex cycles in all music. This marks the group’s triumphant entry onto a label which has always made the exploration of the Italian madrigal repertory one of its cornerstones.
La Venexiana's Secondo Libro del Madrigali is the second volume in an edition devoted to the recording of all eight of Claudio Monteverdi's madrigal collections undertaken by the Spanish label Glossa. In promotional materials for the series, Glossa admits that this is a "time when 'complete' recordings seem to be coming less meaningful and attractive for the music lover" but have decided that there is need for such a series, especially as La Venexiana is so well-versed in the madrigals of Monteverdi.
To complete their masterful Monteverdi Edition, Claudio Cavina and La Venexiana start at the beginning - the Madrigali a cinque voci… Book One. Monteverdi's exploration of the madrigal art form, was to occupy the composer for more than 50 years..
This box set assembles the complete Monteverdi recordings that William Christie and Les Arts Florissants made for harmonia mundi over some fifteen years. Together, they constantly refreshed their inspiration at the wellspring of his finest and most famous madrigals, with a memorable incursion into the sacred repertory of the Selva morale.
The Ferrarese Luzzasco Luzzaschi, a pupil of Cipriano de Rore and teacher in turn of Girolamo Frescobaldi, much admired and praised by the self-same Gesualdo da Venosa, has passed into history as the principal musical inspiration for the Concerto delle Dame, that vocal trio with instrumental accompaniment (for which Glossa has very recently produced a new recording).
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.
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.