Monteverdi: Fourth Book of Madrigals

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COMPOSERS: Monteverdi
LABELS: Glossa
WORKS: Fourth Book of Madrigals
PERFORMER: La Venexiana/Claudio Cavina
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 920924
La Venexiana garnered considerable acclaim for its recordings of Books 2 and 7 of Monteverdi’s madrigals. Book 4, though, is, in some ways, a more difficult challenge. Its uniform five-part writing belies the variety of moods and situations contained in the volume. Moreover, there are two other excellent recordings of the collection available – the sensitively musical version by Anthony Rooley (now on Brilliant), and the movingly dramatic one by Rinaldo Alessandrini (on Opus 111). La Venexiana is at its best in the erotic and mournful madrigals: the rising sexual temperature of ‘Si ch’io vorrei’ is brilliantly captured in the panting, overlapping voices at ‘sweet tongue give me pleasure’, and in ‘Anima dolorosa’, the shocking, grief-stricken dissonances – wrongly ‘corrected’ in Malipiero’s edition of Monteverdi’s works – are restored and beautifully displayed. On the other hand, the playful, pastoral runs in ‘A un giro’ become muddy in the lower voices, and are no match for Rooley’s fresh and light rendering of this work. Also, although their tuning is generally better than that of Alessandrini’s group, in a work such as ‘Piange e sospira’, they cannot match his epic sense of involvement. A good recording, then, but not quite first among equals. Anthony Pryer

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