WORKS: Mercè!” grido, piangendo; Io vi lascio
PERFORMER: Ensemble de Violes Orlando Gibbons, Les Arts Florissants/William Christie
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-23418-2
When Caccini heard Sigismondo d’India perform his own music he declared the younger master a genius in both singing and composition. This programme shows d’India to have absorbed the prevailing madrigal style – most notably that of Monteverdi and Gesualdo – completely, while the highly embellished vocal lines give evidence of d’India’s comprehensive accomplishments as a solo performer.
Christie has chosen with careful discrimination from d’India’s oeuvre, presenting a richly-coloured picture of the composer’s extraordinary expressive range. Les Arts Florissants’s soloists are brilliant and their ensemble is highly polished. But such musical perfection is sometimes curiously uninvolving. Christie’s singers launch the concert with arresting flair in ‘“Mercè!” grido, piangendo’ and they portray the lover’s torment in ‘Io vi lascio’ with breathtaking virtuosity. However, the ardent ‘Alme luci beate’ and the searing dissonances in ‘Crud’ Amarilli’ lack the necessary fire. Excerpts from d’India’s setting of Guarini’s Il pastor fido form the main feature, where this group’s failure uniformly to exploit the composer’s marriage of word and music sadly diminishes the dramatic impact.
Elsewhere, moving grief in the lament on Medea’s death and plaintively lonely ululations in ‘Piangono al pianger mio’ contrast with coolness in the ‘Lamento d’Orfeo’, confirming this release’s strangely mixed rewards. Nicholas Rast