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La Pellegrina - Malvezzi, Marenzio, Etc: Intermedii

Release Date: 03/11/2008 
Label:  Paradizo   Catalog #: 4   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Cristofano Malvezzi
Conductor:  Skip Sempé
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium VocaleCapriccio Stravagante
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

LA PELLEGRINA Skip Sempé, dir; Collegium Vocale Gent; Capriccio Stravagante PARADIZO 4 (2 CDs: 136:14 Text and Translation)


The wedding of Ferdinand de’ Medici, grand duke of Tuscany, to Christine of Lorraine in 1589 was a state occasion of the highest importance, for the duke’s brother and his duchess had been poisoned two years before. A Read more celebration full of pomp and circumstance was needed to put the dynasty on a solid footing. Included was a spectacular theatrical production involving six intermedi performed within Girolamo Bargagli’s comedy, La pellegrina . The intermedi used texts of Rinuccini and music by the composers listed above, along with stage machinery surpassing anything ever built. The production was repeated several times, and the intermedi , to our great good fortune, were printed two years later.

This is the fourth recording of the intermedi . Hans-Martin Linde directed his consort with the Stockholm Chamber Choir, issued in 1973 on Electrola’s Reflexe series and reissued in 1983 on EMI. It played 67 minutes on two LPs and was eventually included on one disc in a box of six CDs. It was generally not well received. Oddly, another recording was made for the Reflexe series in 1986 by Andrew Parrott directing his Taverner Consort and Players (12:3). Although it played nearly 69 minutes, it fitted on one Direct Metal Mastered LP; the CD issued at the same time was not sent for review. It was widely praised, like all of Parrott’s efforts at the time. Paul van Nevel later recorded the same music for the Vivarte series (22:4), but he stretched it out to 104 minutes with slower tempos and added repeats. The review made no mention of the first recording, comparing it only with Parrott.

Don’t be deceived by the timing of the new set. The main disc is 69:10, matching the first two recordings in length, while a second disc (which adds nothing to the price of a single CD) offers an interview with Skip Sempé in English and French. This half-hour discussion supplements the note that Sempé furnishes in the booklet. The interview is illustrated by several musical passages, three of them taken from other works. Not having heard van Nevel’s protracted interpretation, I have no idea why its slower tempos and added repeats would make it worth twice as much. Sempé doesn’t entirely wipe out memories of Parrott’s superb treatment, but it is thoroughly competitive in the qualities of singing, playing, and engineering that Parrott achieved. His roster of singers lacks the famous names that Parrott called on, but they are uniformly satisfactory. I could have done without the applause at the end that signifies the presence of an audience in Brussels that had not been audible up to that point. This landmark event in the transition from Renaissance to Baroque deserves to be accessible on disc, and Sempé has had the wit to give us a worthy version.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber

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Works on This Recording

Io che l'onde raffreno by Cristofano Malvezzi
Conductor:  Skip Sempé
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ghent Collegium Vocale,  Capriccio Stravagante
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1589; Italy 

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