Monteverdi: Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda; Arie e duetti

COMPOSERS: Monteverdi
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Monteverdi
WORKS: Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda; Arie e duetti
PERFORMER: Rolando Villazón (tenor), Patrizia Ciofi (soprano), Topi Lehtipuu (tenor); Le Concert d’Astrée/Emmanuelle Haïm
CATALOGUE NO: 633 5025
This is the latest Monteverdi recording from Emmanuelle Haïm who gave us a notable version of his Orfeo in 2004. It combines the Tancredi e Clorinda drama from Book Eight with most of the items from the 1632 Scherzi Musicale and a few other madrigals.

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Recordings of Monteverdi’s portrayal of the combat between Tancredi and Clorinda are not in short supply, but this is the best. It conjurs up excitement not just through speed (though it is very fast), but through the magnificent theatrical instincts of the narrator (Rolando Villazón) and the compelling involvement of the instrumentalists. Moreover Haïm, unlike her rivals, seems to realise that the third stanza acts like a delayed prologue to the work, and requires some flamboyant curtain-raising ornamentation. She also gives us persuasive versions of the Scherzi Musicale pieces – ‘Si dolce’ has the loveliest instrumental interludes and ‘Eri già’ (again with Villazón) the most stylish lingering over the words. Patrizia Ciofi is attractively expressive in ‘Ohimè ch’io cado’ (though she sharpens the already high performance pitch here and there), and Topi Lehtipuu gives us the pain of rejected love in ‘Et è pur’. An excellent and enduring disc. Anthony Pryer