Marenzio: Quinto Libro di Madrigali a sei voci

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COMPOSERS: Marenzio
LABELS: Glossa
WORKS: Quinto Libro di Madrigali a sei voci
PERFORMER: La Compagnia del Madrigale
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 922804

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Published as a ‘wedding album’ for the Italian nobleman Virginio Orsini (inspiration for Shakespeare’s music-loving Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night), Marenzio’s Fifth Book of Madrigals wallows in the ecstasy of love, turning through sensuous, erotic, tender and fiery emotions, painting backdrops of perfumed gardens and Arcadian idylls. In his day, Marenzio was known as ‘il divino’ and his reputation as the finest of madrigal composers reached Shakespearean England, yet there are surprisingly few recordings of these beguiling works, making this disc all the more welcome.

La Compagnia del Madrigale was founded by former members of the critically acclaimed ensembles Concerto Italiano and La Venexiana. Here working without a director, the singers infuse their accounts with the true spirit of chamber music and, as native Italian speakers, are highly responsive to the drama and nuances of the texts. They sigh and whisper, caress and enfold you in voluptuous textures, offering ardent and expressive readings to convey heady emotions and vibrant imagery. The sound is lush but never forced, individual lines are sharply etched while ensemble and intonation are flawless. Glossa’s lustrous recording and some fascinating liner notes exploring the passionate and murderous intrigues of Orsini’s circle complete an outstanding production.

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Kate Bolton