LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi
PERFORMER: The Consort of Musicke/Anthony Rooley
CATALOGUE NO: VBD 5 61570 2 Reissue (1990, 1991)
Anthony Rooley first recorded Monteverdi’s Eighth Book of Madrigals complete on three discs in 1990-91. Here it is reissued on two discs with one of the least successfully recorded items (the ‘Ballo delle Ingrate’) omitted. This is not a great loss and there are certainly some fine tracks here, including Altri canti di Marte with its delicate emotional and dynamic shading, and a deft and alert rendering of Monteverdi’s astonishing compendium of singing techniques, Mentre vaga Angioletta. Rooley’s recordings of this repertoire have been unfavourably compared with those of the Concerto Italiano (on Opus 111), but this is unfair since the Italians have admitted to learning much from the lovely clarity and unromanticised restraint of Rooley’s performances.
The Il Ruggiero disc covers the ‘Love’ madrigals of Book Eight (the ‘War’ madrigals were reviewed last month). Unlike Rooley they do include the ‘Ballo delle Ingrate’, but they omit without comment ‘Ardo e scopir’ and ‘O sia tranquillo’, presumably on the grounds that these two items are also found in Book 9. The performances are generally faster than Rooley’s but rougher and with some clumsy ensemble work (in Non partir) and some out-of-tune bass singing. The letter, as well as the spirit of this music needs to be observed. Anthony Pryer