WORKS: Third Book of Madrigals, 1592
PERFORMER: La Venexiana/Claudio Cavina
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 920910
In his Third Book of Madrigals of 1592, the 25-year-old Monteverdi produced a remarkable collection of works to show off his skill in an array of musical styles: there are intricate pieces for virtuoso female singers; intense, highly chromatic works; dramatic and declamatory ones.
La Venexiana – a group made up of singers formerly with Concerto Italiano – has much to offer in this repertoire, not least a wealth of experience in performing it and, of course, a natural affinity with the language. The voices are perfectly balanced to produce a glorious, rich sound, and their ability to communicate the poetry and power of the texts is second to none. Here and there, the group could perhaps have made more of the extraordinary stylistic differences within these works: there is a high seriousness to their interpretations which reflects the introverted mood of much of the poetry, but which gives a certain uniformity of nature across the whole book. This is a small caveat, though, as overall these are beautiful and finely judged performances. The excellent recording – detailed yet sonorous – and the elegant packaging by Glossa also deserve mention. Kate Bolton