Giulio Cesare Monteverdi

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COMPOSERS: Giulio Cesare Monteverdi
LABELS: Auvidis
WORKS: Affetti musici
PERFORMER: Ensemble Concerto/Roberto Gini
Monteverdi’s brother, Giulio Cesare, is remembered chiefly for his ‘Declaration’, or manifesto, that accompanied his elder sibling’s Scherzi musicale (1607). Of far greater rarity nowadays is an opportunity to hear Giulio Cesare’s own music, though two of his pieces are, in fact, included among the Scherzi musicale. The Affetti musici is the younger brother’s only surviving collection; it was published in 1620 and consists of 26 modestly sized settings of sacred texts. The settings are mostly conservative in their musical outlook, though a handful of them employ newly developing techniques, with instrumental ritornelli and alternation between solo and tutti voices. These are generally more ambitious in their vocal writing than the simpler motets for single voice. Some of the most striking pieces, however, are the vocal duetti in which Monteverdi junior achieves an affecting expressive fervour. Though the larger, instrumentally supported motets make a strong initial impression they also serve to underline the absence of that genius which characterises each and every one of his brother’s pieces in a similar idiom. Nevertheless, Ensemble Concerto, under the direction of Roberto Gini, makes out a strong case for a complete performance of the Affetti musici. The vocal blending is excellent and so is the recording. Nicholas Anderson