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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Monteverdi’s very first publication in 1582 was the Sacrae cantiunculae tribus vocibus, and a collection of Madrigali spirituali in four parts followed in 1585. The following year brought the present set of Canzonette, delightful works for three voices. Their title-page makes the point that Monteverdi was just 17, and they are dedicated to the composer’s ‘master and patron’, Pietro Ambrosisi of Cremona. After a brief instrumental introduction, the opening number, Qual si può dir, makes a charming play on Pietro’s name: ‘What greater plant from Heaven can there be than sweet Ambrosia’, and the music itself is fresh and engaging, as indeed are all these comparatively simple settings for poems about love (mostly unrequited) and consequent desperate longing. But Monteverdi has a twinkle in his eye in giving Godi pur dei bei sen an appropriate jumping rhythm, for the poem begins: ‘Delight, happy flea, in the fair bosom where you leap and ever sweetly bite.’

J. F. Weber
Fanfare, November 1999

The Monteverdi disc is important for filling in nearly all of the remaining unrecorded items in the composer’s discography…the performances are so winning is a necessary part of the choice… © 1999 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

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