Croce, Pacoloni, Azzaiolo & Vecchi

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Azzaiolo & Vecchi,Croce,Pacoloni
LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Carnevale Veneziano
WORKS: Croce: Mascarate piacevoli et ridicolose per il carnevale; Triaca musicale; works by Pacoloni, Azzaiolo & Vecchi
PERFORMER: I Fagiolini
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0665
On the whole the official accounts of music history are rather po-faced, full of respectable works on respectable themes. The 16th-century genre of the ‘madrigal comedy’, however, was no such thing, and I Fagiolini has produced a little gem here with these two examples from the Venetian composer Giovanni Croce. Madrigal comedies by Banchieri and Vecchi have been recorded before, but this is a first for Croce, who was a witty and adroit composer.

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The Mascarate piacevoli (‘Delightful Masquerade’) is a rather dotty collection of dialect pieces by street characters and local townsfolk. The performers make the most of every foible until, in the ‘Beggar Women’s Masquerade’, the music almost collapses under the hilarious exaggeration. Much more sophisticated is the Triaca musicale (‘Musical Cure-All’). Here, too, the performers milk the humour with false starts (in ‘Gratiano’s Masquerade’) and funny voices (in the ‘Game of the Goose’). Perhaps, though, by their constant, overt pantomimics they rob us of some more subtle ironies, such as the amazing sophistication of the music of the ‘Song of the Cuckoo’ as it grows out of such a silly bird-call. Even so, this is a marvellously entertaining disc, cleverly kept together by some interpolated lute pieces, nicely played. Anthony Pryer