Monteverdi: The Third Book of Madrigals

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COMPOSERS: Monteverdi
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: The Third Book of Madrigals
PERFORMER: The Consort of Musicke/Anthony Rooley
CATALOGUE NO: VC 7 59283 2 DDD
Nearly half a century separates the publication of Monteverdi’s second and third books of madrigals from the ninth book, in which the main work on Capriccio Stravagante’s disc is found. Not only are the extremes of Monteverdi’s musical language represented here, but also it would be hard to imagine two more contrasted styles of interpretation.

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The Consort’s two discs continue its series of Monteverdi’s madrigal books and maintain the high standard of performance and production. Ensemble and intonation are impeccable, and its pure, transparent sound is particularly well suited to the lighter style of Monteverdi’s early madrigals. It is, perhaps, too refined in the more substantial, dramatic works, where texts cry out for a more weighty, intense reading.

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Capriccio Stravagante, on the other hand, is exciting and has a free approach. Guillemette Laurens makes an impassioned Arianna – so distressed, indeed, that her singing is not always under control. Here, too, the elaborate continuo realisation interferes with Monteverdi’s exquisite vocal line. More successful is the instrumental playing in Carlo Farina’s Capriccio Stravagante, a sort of 17th-century ‘Old MacDonald’, which Sempé directs with great humour. To close, they offer a lively performance of Combatimento di Tancredi et Clorinda, the narration of which is vividly brought to life by Konstantinos Paliatsaras. Kate Bolton