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Monteverdi: Lagrime d’Amante

La Compagnia del Madrigale (Glossa)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Lagrime d’Amante – madrigals
La Compagnia del Madrigale
Glossa GCD 922810    76:34 mins

This attractively presented and thoughtfully assembled programme features a cappella madrigals from the six collections which preceded Monteverdi’s Venetian period. The disc title takes its name from the most extended of the pieces here, drawn from the Sixth Book of Madrigals. It commemorates the death in 1608 of the 18-year-old singer and pupil of the composer, Caterina Martinelli. Monteverdi’s own wife had died in the previous year, and so the theme of loss prevalent throughout this Book feels especially intense. Shorter, but hardly less affecting is Petrarch’s ‘Zefiro torna’, also from Book Six, containing towards its close images and startlingly dissonant harmonies of almost unbearable poignancy. The voices of La Compagnia del Madrigale bring dramatic fervour and expressive subtlety to bear upon Monteverdi’s deep psychological insight. The five and six-part vocal textures are transparent and well-balanced making the most of the composer’s versatile harmonic colouring and declamatory freedom.

From among the earlier collections represented on the disc, the pellucid ‘Ecco mormorar l’onde’ (Second Book) is by far the best known, and stylistically the most forward-looking. Tasso’s pastoral poem, together with his also included fervently amorous ‘Mentr’io mirava fiso’ (Second Book), is deftly enlivened by Monteverdi’s rich store of musical images and delicate shading of textural detail. The singers’ homogeneity of sound and immediacy of response are among the recording’s several virtues. On a sad note, this treasurable disc pays tribute to Daniele Carnovich, whose premature death has robbed us of an especially fine bass.

Nicholas Anderson