Notes and Editorial Reviews
Luigi Gaggero, cond; La Dolce Maniera
STRADIVARIUS 33963 (55:48
Text and Translation)
This set of 20 madrigals, published in Venice in 1603, has been recorded as a unit at least seven times, but the two most recent discs arrived a decade ago from Marco Longhini (
29:3) and Claudio Cavina (28:5), the latter recorded later but issued earlier. Both were fine,
competing with Anthony Rooley (reissued with Book 5 more recently) and Rinaldo Alessandrini (17:3), the best of the earlier versions. This disc comes from an ensemble of six singers and their director, all of them unknown to me until now. Comparing the new version with these four is instructive. Longhini, as always, provides a continuo for half of the selections, unlike the others, and has the broadest tempos of all, almost 74 minutes in this case, while Cavina comes in at 61 minutes and Alessandrini at 62 minutes. The new group nearly matches Rooley’s 54 minutes, a surprising result. We might expect the natives to take more time to be expressive of the words, but as it turns out the new group is expressive to a fault, pouncing on words, widening the dynamic range in the process. I hear individual voices more than the ensemble that Alessandrini, in particular, cultivates.
Not to be too harsh, this is really a fine interpretation on its own terms. Unlike the singers who move from one ensemble to another, these are unfamiliar names in a new group. The ensemble takes a scholarly approach, two of them teaching at Strasbourg, transcribing the sources anew for a fresh interpretation. Cavina’s complete set of Monteverdi’s secular vocal works is to be treasured, but that can’t prevent others from trying their hand at the endlessly rewarding music. This is a worthy alternative.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Madrigals, Book 4 by Claudio Monteverdi
La Dolce Maniera
Written: by 1603; Mantua, Italy
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