Banchieri/Striggio

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COMPOSERS: Banchieri/Striggio
LABELS: Opus
WORKS: Festino nella sera del giovedì grasso avanti cena; La caccia; Il cicalamento delle donne al bucato
PERFORMER: Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
CATALOGUE NO: 111 OPS 30-137 DDD
This talented Italian vocal ensemble, under the direction of Rinaldo Alessandrini, has already proved its excellence in previous discs of Monteverdi madrigals. In this engaging new release the artists turn their attention to ‘madrigal comedies’ by 16th-century Alessandro Striggio and his younger contemporary, Adriano Banchieri. These are highly entertaining, often witty pieces, with a strong onomatopoeic element and a profusion of vividly depictive images running through them. Comedy and pathos alternate with effective rapidity. Horn calls, yapping dogs and a beautiful evocation of the setting sun feature prominently in Striggio’s The Hunt, while Banchieri’s Fête for the Evening of Carnival Thursday, before Supper contains among its highlights a passage of hilarious counterpoint improvised by an owl, a cuckoo, a cat and a dog over a cantus firmus.

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What a marvellous model this kind of writing provided for the young French composer Charpentier who, returning from Italy, incorporated similar passages in his comédie ballet collaborations with Molière. No less waggish is Striggio’s Chattering of Washerwomen, a masterpiece of bitchy gossip. I wish my local launderette were half as lively. An outstanding performance from start to finish.