Canzonette e Madrigali

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Musica Riservata
WORKS: Chamber music of the Italian early Baroque, 1607-50
PERFORMER: Monika Mauch (soprano), Rainer Ullreich (violin), Andrea Cordula Baur (guitar, theorbo), Johannes Maria Bogner (harpsichord, organ)
CATALOGUE NO: MR 62002

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This absorbing selection of vocal and instrumental works includes a generous number of rarities by the likes of Biagio Marini, Andrea Falconiero and Gasparo Casati, as well as more familiar madrigals by Monteverdi. The styles range from light canzonette and sprightly scherzi to a rapt and mesmerising setting of the Stabat mater by Roman composer Giovanni Felice Sances.

In addition, a couple of real oddities have been thrown in for good measure: a chromatically contorted harpsichord piece ascribed to Gesualdo and a spoof lament in which an abandoned lover sings of flying buffalos, bagpiping frogs and fencing crickets, all in impassioned recitativo.

The programme is full of delightful surprises and the performers – all of whom are fully versed in early Baroque style – offer sensitive and stylish interpretations. Monika Mauch’s agile, bell-like soprano is well suited to this intricate, intimate repertoire though she has been ill-served by the recorded sound.

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Her voice lacks definition in such a washy acoustic and there are times when the balance leaves you wondering if she has popped off to sing in the bathroom while the instrumentalists carry on regardless. A pity, since so much work has gone into the research and planning of this unusual programme. Kate Bolton