LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Works by d’India,
PERFORMER: María Cristina Kiehr (soprano); Concerto Soave/Jean-Marc Aymes
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901774
Monteverdi has so dominated our rediscovery of the dawning Italian Baroque that Sigismondo d’India remains relatively neglected. Yet d’India is no lesser composer in these 18 strophic songs and through-composed madrigal-text settings. All are in what he himself called ‘this new manner of music-making’, with an impassioned soloist above a simple continuo bass and harmonic in-fill. They are remarkable demonstrations of the breadth of his musical imagination. At one extreme are repeated verses of catchy melody as the singer trips lightly through encounters with teasing lovers. An extended lament of Dido for her lost Aeneas matches Monteverdi’s great monologues of noble grief from Arianna and Penelope.
Elsewhere, every note of the nightingale is illustrated vocally with spectacular ‘trillo’ repetitions and dazzling melismas – a veritable compendium of birdsong. In two madrigals of a weeping lover, the new-fangled harmony moves slowly enough for the ear to grasp its amazingly unpredictable directions, and make sense of the outrageous ‘wrong notes’ above. María Cristina Kiehr, accompanied by a colourfully varied range of continuo instruments, is clearly inspired by the musical invention here. Her voice is deceptive, at once cuttingly clean, yet subtly responsive to every emotional nuance. Concerto Soave adds five brief instrumental interludes, creating a disc which I revelled in at a single sitting. George Pratt