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Fabrice Fitch
Gramophone, January 2009

A zestful traversal of Monteverdi's monumental Madrigal collection

Delitiae Musicae's account of Monteverdi’s lengthy Seventh Book of Madrigals has more to recommend it than an attractive price.

Where Book 8 lays much emphasis on ensemble pieces, its predecessor favours accompanied duets, and there's nothing involving more than four voices. So it's a more intimate experience, and Delitiae Musicae respond to it with a directness that can make La Venexiana's reading for Glossa seem fussy or tentative in parts, and a touch perfunctory elsewhere. The numbers for two high voices are done with countertenors, and these are perhaps the weaker link (to say weakest wouldn't be quite fair) in the set. These are done first, after a reflective "Tempro la cerra" and a rather laboured "A quest' olmo", so the project gets off to an uncertain start; thereafter things improve markedly.

The duets for tenors are particularly satisfying. When the high voices return towards the end they seem in far bener form: "Ohime dov'e il mio ben" is charming, and "Chiome d'oro" has some genuinely winy touches that left me smiling—I'm fairly certain that they'll bear repeated listening. Though not over-nourished, the continuo section is full of character and often incisive—a fully engaged protagonist. Despite the odd blemish, the set as a whole breathes a sense of commitment often lacking from La Venexiana's, and the sound recording has greater presence. The concluding ballo,"Tirsi e Clori", is something of a showstopper: the cast is audibly enjoying itself. Earlier instalments of this series have sometimes left me questioning the wisdom of an all-male cast in this repertoire, but here there's more than enough to silence the sceptic.



David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2008

Five years had passed since the publication of his Sixth Book of Madrigals, and Claudio Monteverdi had moved from Mantua to Venice, an event marking a new dawn in his style of composition.

Subtitled ‘Concerto’, it was to bring an end to the conventional use of five voices in madrigals, each of the thirty-two short pieces being scored for one or two voices and instrumental ensemble. The book opens with an extended Sinfonia, the general feel throughout being one of love, with erotic texts that must have been very bold in the seventeenth century. A good sampling point, where love is mixed with sadness, comes in track 5 of the first disc, Io son pur  Vezzosetta (I am a pretty young shepherdess). As you would expect, songs of such tender feelings are expressed against a gentle instrumental backdrop, often a single theorbo or baroque guitar, both exquisitely played by Maurizio Piantelli. The music gives much scope to hear the very fine countertenor, Alessandro Carmignani, though it is the two tenors, Fabio Furnari and Paolo Fanciulacci, who carry the main thrust of the disc, their three duets, beginning with the twelfth madrigal, find their voices perfectly blended. Yet my greatest pleasure comes with the characterful voice of the countertenor, Paolo Costa, singing the love letter where the writer pours out his feelings, Se I Languidi Miei Sguardi (If my Languishing Glances).The book ends with an extended vocal dance in which the shepherd woos his shepherdess, a final ecstatic dance of happiness marking their union. Of course we know little about the style of singing that would have existed in Monteverdi’s time, the conductor, Marco Longhini, using today’s thoughts that lyric madrigals would have been in long flowing lines, while a sense of drama is pictured by a rather jagged progression. The singers and instrumentalists form part of Delitiae Musicae, an Italian ensemble dedicated to the regeneration of their national Renaissance and Baroque composers, this disc being a welcome addition to their discography. The sound quality is very good and ideally balanced.






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6:38:58 PM, 22 August 2014
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