Monteverdi: Sixth Book of Madrigals (1614)

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COMPOSERS: Monteverdi
LABELS: Glossa
ALBUM TITLE: Monteverdi – Sixth Book of Madrigals (1614)
WORKS: Sixth Book of Madrigals (1614)
PERFORMER: La Venexiana
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 920926
This is the latest disc in La Venexiana’s recorded edition of Monteverdi’s madrigals. (For reviews of their other recent releases see August 2004 and January 2005). In fact the musical intricacies of Book Six make it rather difficult to present successfully – the last complete recording was in 1991 by Raffaello Monterosso (on Capirole).

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The famous laments fare the best here. Incenerite spoglie, in memory of the young singer Caterina Martinelli, is sung with sensitive dynamic control, and Arianna’s Lament is anchored harmonically by a rock-steady bass line. The Petrarch sonnets are less good: in Zefiro torna, for example, there is some awkward gear-changing in the move to duple time in the first section, and the almost atonal but sublime dissonances of the closing section are reduced by unsteady voices and an inappropriately resonant acoustic to a kind of clamour. (Decades ago The King’s Singers produced the only credible recording of this passage.) Even so, this is not a bad attempt at the collection as a whole, though Anthony Rooley’s 1990 account on Virgin Veritas is marginally better. Anthony Pryer