Willaert, Gabrieli, Francesco Da Milano, de Rore

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COMPOSERS: de Rore,Francesco Da Milano,Gabrieli,Willaert
LABELS: Metronome
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Titian Ð Venice and the Music of Love
WORKS: Works by Willaert, Gabrieli, Francesco da Milano, de Rore,
PERFORMER: Concordia/Mark Levy
CATALOGUE NO: MET CD 1052
To complement the National Gallery’s Titian blockbuster (on until 18 May), the early music ensemble Concordia was commissioned to record this recital of music from Renaissance Venice broadly contemporary with the artist. The viol-player Mark Levy has put together a programme of 12 songs and ten instrumental pieces for viols, lute and harpsichord by composers likely to have shared secular patrons with Titian, many of whom were connected with San Marco. Not all, however, are Venetians: Willaert, and the singer and madrigal composer Verdelot, came from Flanders; Diego Ortíz had come from Toledo to the Spanish court at Naples.

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It’s an intriguing idea, but the result is strangely uncompelling, and makes one long for the earthiness, spirit and wit of Monteverdi’s madrigals (he was nine when Titian died and was therefore ineligible). Concordia’s seven singers perform with infinite care and attention, their voices pure, steady and seamlessly modulated. But the effect is cool and academic, and there’s very little life or characterisation in what they sing. These are songs of love – spurned, ravished, blissed out, patriotic – and what they call for is passion. Claire Wrathall