A Room of Mirrors
Early Baroque songs and arias by Calestani, D’India, Turini et al
Emiliano Gonzalez Toro, Zachary Wilder (tenor); I Gemelli
Gemelli Factory GEFA001/1 57:56 mins
The room referred to in the title here is quite crowded since it contains ten composers, each of them from the generation following Monteverdi. As for its reflective mirrors we see works that either directly parody the master’s style, or set the texts that he set, or engage with similar topics. The two tenors, Emiliano Gonzalez Toro and Zachary Wilder, are both famous exponents of Baroque repertoire and bring with them great skill and nuanced understanding.
Perhaps the most captivating parody of Monteverdi’s style is Gregori’s ‘Mai non disciolgasi’. It alludes to the former’s duet ‘Zefiro torna’ through fascinating allusions to his themes and style. Toro and Wilder pull out all the stops with some fast-paced bravura singing, and in Calestani’s ‘Damigella tutta bella’ (which sets the same text as a work from Monteverdi’s 1607 Scherzi collection) they produce lilting cross rhythms with enough panache to inspire dancers in an Irish jig festival. In d’India’s ‘Giunto alla tomba’ where Tancredi laments the death of Clorinda, they respond adeptly to the dark harmonic shifts and the tragic meaning (they sing Tasso’s original text, though the booklet prints a different one for lines 3-6). D’India’s ‘Dialogo della rosa’ is different again with a flirtatious pastoral dialogue between Tirsi and Mopso. The vocal lines in this piece are simpler, so the repeated sections might have attracted some extra decoration. Throughout this collection I Gemelli’s superb instrumental accompaniments manage to be simultaneously intricate and delicate.