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Monteverdi Memories

Capella de la Torre/Katharina Bäuml (DHM)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Monteverdi Memories
Madrigals and sacred works
Capella de la Torre/Katharina Bäuml
DHM 194399971925   74:31 mins

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It is not entirely clear why this disc is called ‘Memories’ but perhaps it is because it centres upon three partly retrospective collections of Monteverdi’s music – two late madrigal books from 1619 and 1638, and the dense ‘wooded grove‘ of his ‘moral and sacred music’ from 1640, the Selva Morale e Spirituale. Another reason seems to be that his sacred music sometimes alludes to passages from his secular pieces, as between Beatus vir (track 16) and Chiomo d’oro (track 13). These overlaps encourage an exchange of performance styles with several of the sacred works attracting percussion accompaniments.

Most of these pieces are vocal in nature. The singers are fairly nimble and spirited and give good accounts of Confitebor tibi II(Viktoria Wilson, Minsub Hong, Julian Popken) and Laudate Dominum in sanctis eius (Martin Logar). Elsewhere, in Ohimé ch’io cado, we get some rather un-italianate squeezed vowel sounds, though the performance hints at what is probably a Spanish influence behind this piece. The director Katharina Bäuml is a wind instrumentalist, and not surprisingly she conjures up well the monumentalism of Venetian ensemble music in the ‘Sonata sopra Sancta Maria’ (from Monteverdi’s Vespers) and the instrumental interludes from his Ballo della Ingrate. The combinations of instruments and voices are sometimes less happy: Confitebor tibi III is given a murky texture and Chiome d’oro an over-heavy bass line. Some of these pieces are ‘arranged’ and reconfigured. Zefiro tornafrom the 1632 Scherzi musicale is chopped about in a particularly ghastly manner.

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Anthony Pryer