Il Trionfo di Dori

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Anerio,Asola,Baccusi,Balbi,Bertani,Bonini,Bozzi,Cavaccio,Colombani,Costa,Croce,Eremita,Florio,G Gabrieli,Gastoldi,Giovannelli,Leoni,Macque,Marenzio,Massaino,Monte,Palestrina,Porta,Preti,Sabino,Stabile,Striggio,Vecchi & Zerto
LABELS: Signum
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 414

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First published in Venice in 1592, Il Trionfo di Dori is a collection of 29 madrigals by 29 different composers, ranging from elusive figures like Ippolito Baccusi and Ludovico Balbi to some of the most celebrated names of the day, including Giovanni Gabrieli, Marenzio and Palestrina. Intended as a sort of commemorative wedding album for the Venetian nobleman Leonardo Sanudo, the collection praises his young wife Elisabetta Giustinian, idealised as the graceful mythological sea-nymph Dori, daughter of Oceanus. Across the waters, the set inspired Thomas Morley to produce his more famous equivalent in praise of Queen Elizabeth I: The Triumphs of Oriana.

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Our backdrop is an Arcadian idyll where ‘gentle nymphs and loving shepherds’ sing the praises of the divine Dori. The main challenge any ensemble faces in presenting this collection is that the musical, poetic and emotional range of the madrigals is inevitably restricted, given their adulatory purpose, the stylised pastoral idiom and the endlessly repeating refrain, ‘Viva la bella Dori’, that rounds of each piece. Technically, The King’s Singers turn out their characteristic, highly polished finish: diction is razor-sharp, ensemble and intonation are well-nigh flawless. Yet their consistently shiny, clean sound – dominated by countertenors David Hurley and Timothy Wayne-Wright – is limited in its colour palette and the effect grows monotonous on extended listening. The performances are certainly slicker than the rival recording by the Gruppo Vocale Arsi & Tesi but the end result verges on the clinical. Kate Bolton