ALBUM TITLE: Monteverdi
WORKS: Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi Libro VIII
PERFORMER: Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
CATALOGUE NO: OP 30435
Rinaldo Alessandrini began recording Monteverdi’s Eighth Book of Madrigals on the Opus 111 label in the late 1990s, but the project was never completed. The first two of these discs date from that time, and the third was added for this recording. There is stiff competition for this repertory from La Venexiana on Glossa (reviewed February 2006), and older attempts by René Jacobs (Harmonia Mundi) and Anthony Rooley (Virgin Classics).
What Alessandrini brings to this music is inventive instrumental accompaniments (drums are added to the ballo on disc three) and a particularly nuanced projection of the words. This can be heard in the arresting phrasing of ‘Ninfa che scalza’, and in the magical opening to ‘Hor che’l ciel’. In ‘Altri canti’, though, the stop-start approach undermines the musical effects – this is the slowest available recording of Book Eight. There is some fine ornamentation from the tenor Luca Dordolo in ‘Volgendo il ciel’, but the sopranos are slightly hard-edged and the bass singing of ‘Pluto in Ballo’ della ingrate tends to be flat. In ‘Tancredi et Clorinda’, however, this group really knows how to project a sense of drama. For a more genteel but musically reliable version try Rooley on Virgin Classics. Anthony Pryer