COMPOSERS: Cipriano de Rore & His Pupils
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Dangerous Graces
PERFORMER: Musica Secreta; Emily Van Evera (soprano), Richard Wistreich (bass), Mark Levy (viols)
CATALOGUE NO: CKD 169
Cipriano de Rore (d1565) is not a name even music historians conjure with very often, but he was famous in the Renaissance for having invented the truly expressive madrigal by making music responsive to the meaning of the words. He worked at Parma with Ingegneri and at Ferrara with Wert and Luzzaschi, and these men became the direct teachers of Monteverdi. Never before on CD has this central line of influence been so clearly and dramatically demonstrated. Moreover, we also get some serious attempts to resurrect ancient practices of embellishing madrigals (in Rore’s ‘Hor che’l ciel’, with its now very busy accompaniment), or performing them with females singing the tenor and bass parts as well as the higher voices (demonstrated to rather odd effect in Wert’s ‘Vezzosi augelli’).
As a musical research project this is of great value, but the technical vocal control and musical understanding are sometimes lacking – and never more so than in the amazing and challenging works by Giaches de Wert. For a better balance between musical experience and historical awareness try the Cantus Cölln version of ‘Forsennata gridava’ on Harmonia Mundi, and the Consort of Musicke version of ‘Gratie ch’a pochi’ on Virgin Veritas. Anthony Pryer