LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Pavaniglia
WORKS: Dances & madrigals from 17th-century Italy
PERFORMER: Ellen Hargis (soprano), Paul O’Dette (guitar, chitarrone), Andrew Lawrence-King (harp); The King’s Noyse/David Douglass (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: HMU 907246
The King’s Noyse is an American ensemble of period instruments founded some 12 years ago with a view to re-establishing the violin band of the Renaissance. I have enjoyed several of the group’s previous releases, notably for its spontaneous response and unbuttoned approach to 16th- and 17th-century dances. Pavaniglia is the title of just such a programme, this time of songs and dances of 17th-century Italy.
In addition to the bowed-string band of five players there are important contributions from harpist Andrew Lawrence-King and Paul O’Dette on guitar and chitarrone. The single vocalist is soprano Ellen Hargis, whose singing will be well known to early music and Baroque enthusiasts. Her contribution, mainly a strong one – though her uppermost register can sound pinched – includes Luigi Rossi’s beautiful lament ‘Lasciate Averno’ from his Paris opera Orfeo (1647), and Monteverdi’s ‘Ohimè, ch’io cado’. ‘Voglio di vita uscir’, also present in the programme may or may not be by Monteverdi.
The instrumental pieces, far greater in number, are thoughtfully varied in character and in colour, and are played with rhythmic verve; but it is the vocal items – above all, the ravishing Rossi – which crown this rewarding programme. Nicholas Anderson