ALBUM TITLE: Monteverdi
WORKS: Night, Stories of Lovers and Warriors: selections from the Madrigals Books 6 and 8; Sinfonias
PERFORMER: Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
CATALOGUE NO: OP30566
The theatre of night, a beguiling setting for Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano’s disc of much-loved madrigals to commemorate Monteverdi’s 450-year anniversary. Of course, these maestri of madrigals recorded much of this repertoire to great acclaim some twenty or more years ago, but the cover of darkness provides an elegant context for fresh interpretations – with striking new takes on ornamentation and dissonance, pace and affect.
The instrumentalists particularly are on superb form, not only in the characteristically inventive continuo, but also in spicing the madrigalian textures and creating a sonorous tone in short sinfonias that punctate the varied programme. Text is the driving force throughout. From the breath-taking stillness of sleep in the opening lines of ‘Hor che’l ciel e la terra’ (Book VIII), to the dark stage of warring passions in a pacey, dynamic reading of the Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, and Anna Simboli’s searing and enraged Nymph (Lamento della Ninfa). If beauty of tone is occasionally sacrificed for dramatic interpretation of the text, the sacrifice is never in vain. The silent actor of night encourages more extremes – and the exceptionally recorded sound promotes a theatrical sense of space. The trademark ravishing blend of Concerto Italiano’s six vocalists tugs the heartstrings, especially in ‘Al lume delle stelle’, and as the eventful night gives way to a concluding dawn ‘Ecco mormorar l’onde’ and ‘Quando l’alba in oriente’ are imbued with brighter colours. Accompanying notes are as poetic as they are analytic, offering a listening experience in which you can appreciate the equal alchemy of Monteverdi’s craft and Alessandrini’s execution of it.
Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.