Monteverdi: Scherzi Musicali

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COMPOSERS: Monteverdi
LABELS: Glossa
WORKS: Scherzi Musicali: Con che soavità; Ohimè ch’io cado; Si dolce’è il tormento; Maledetto sia l’aspetto; Quel sguardo sdegnosetto; Eri già tutta mia; La mia turca; Voglio di vita uscir; Lamento d’Arianna etc
PERFORMER: Emanuela Galli (soprano); Le Venexiana/Claudio Cavina
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 920915

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We have here secular works by Monteverdi not appearing in his madrigal books (all of which La Venexiana have now recorded). The collection includes most of the items from his Scherzi Musicali (1632), some pieces from anthologies published in 1624 and 1634, and a very rare recording of a work from a manuscript in Naples (‘Voglio di vita uscir’). The disc ends with the famous lament of Arianna, but in somewhat unfamiliar guise accompanied by booming strings.

These solo songs are all sung by the same singer, the Italian soprano Emanuela Galli, whose voice has great character and strength. She brings panache and rhythmic flexibility to ‘Quel sguardo’, and plaintiveness to ‘Si dolc’è il tormento’ – helped by the jazzy languidity of Doron Sherwin’s cornett playing. Lots of fun is had with the curiously cheerful setting of the text ‘Voglio di vita uscir’, where the accompanists add little allusions to other pieces by Monteverdi, and ‘Et è pur’ experiments with a section for the accompanying instrument not in the score.

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Other items fare less well: in ‘Ohimè ch’io cado’ the varied dynamics of the singer are steamrollered by the relentless accompaniment; and in ‘Con che soavità’, perhaps encouraged by the somewhat echoey acoustic, Galli forces her voice into a raw vibrato. Even so, this is a spirited disc full of interesting music. Anthony Pryer