Notes and Editorial Reviews
Madrigals, Book 7
Marco Longhini, dir; Delitiae Musicae
NAXOS 8.555314 (3 CDs: 162:45
Text and Translation)
Following the first six books of madrigals (30:2, 31: 2), with the rest promised in due course, Longhini’s new Book 7 was recorded in a single week using his new critical edition, the first since Malapiero’s in 1932. This is only the fourth complete recorded set of the collection that was published in 1619 as “Concerto,” preceded by Raymond Leppard issued in 1977
(3:2), Roberto Gini in 1989 (14: 1), and Claudio Cavina in 1998 (26:4). While Leppard was working on his recordings, Michel Corboz made eight LPs of madrigals drawn from all the books, including 17 of Book 7’s 29 pieces. It is remarkable that the timings of the four sets have lengthened with each new version, though the two most nearly alike (Gini and Cavina) are less than a minute apart overall. For Longhini, this is not unexpected, for the tempos in all of his previous discs have been longer than most of the alternatives.
Book 7 was the last Leppard set to appear on Philips, and the LPs were not even issued in England, perhaps because the previous sets had been received less than enthusiastically. His six complete books, recorded for Philips from 1969 to 1975, were issued in a box of eight CDs only in 1998, although in the first year of the CD EMI had reissued the much older recordings that he had made for them. There is a connection between the other two sets, for Cavina had been a member of Gini’s group (he then joined Rinaldo Alessandrini’s group, which has still not recorded Book 7, before forming his own ensemble).
Book 7 was a remarkable advance over Monteverdi’s first six books, which were all set for five voices. The title page for this book made clear the break by specifying madrigals for one, two, three, four, and six voices together with other kinds of sung works. Longhini’s notes are illuminating, for he has learned much in preparing his own edition from the 1619 edition and four reprints, as well as from the original published texts of the poems. He cites Claudio Gallico’s statement that the pieces are arranged in a “carefully calculated and finely balanced” way, setting it against Cavina’s reordering of the pieces in his recording (the only one of the four to do so). He explains in detail the errors that he has corrected not only in Malapiero’s edition but also in the original.
Longhini’s ensemble consists of seven male voices (two countertenors on the top lines) with 15 players. Each track specifies the participants. He defends the use of a countertenor in “Lettera amorosa,” more often (but by no means always) sung by a woman, for the poet himself specified that the letter is being read by the impatient writer, not the recipient. Apart from what his group sings is the matter of how the group sings. As noted in previous reviews, Longhini’s tempos reflect a preference for expression and harmonic subtlety over speed and agility. His all-male ensemble requires downward transposition. His use of instruments, optional in most of the earlier works, is no longer an issue now in works that specify them, even calling for two flutes in “A quest’olmo.” A total timing more than 15 percent slower than the other two modern sets (even greater with respect to Leppard) seems enormous, but it is not. To be sure, “A quest’olmo” is the only piece that is not the slowest of the four versions, but only three or four pieces are notably slower than the competition. This is simply a more relaxed interpretation, made more obvious only because it spills over to a third disc.
The singers are remarkably fine, and the new edition deserves close attention. His current competition, of course, is Cavina, who doubtless defends the contrast that he provides by choosing a different order for the selections. He also has a splendid group of singers and a deluxe presentation, if slightly more expensive. There are clear differences between the interpretations of Cavina and Longhini, but each is worth a serious hearing.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Madrigals, Book 7: Tempro la cetra by Claudio Monteverdi
Written: by 1619; Italy
Length: 11 Minutes 48 Secs.
A quest'olmo, a quest'ombre by Claudio Monteverdi
Written: by 1619; Italy
Length: 5 Minutes 18 Secs.
Madrigals, Book 7: Soave libertate by Claudio Monteverdi
Written: by 1619; Italy
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs.
Al lume delle stelle by Claudio Monteverdi
Written: 1619; Italy
Length: 5 Minutes 16 Secs.
Madrigals, Book 7: Tirsi e Clori by Claudio Monteverdi
Written: 1616; Italy
Length: 14 Minutes 31 Secs.
Symphonia: Tempro la cetra
A quest'olmo, a quest'ombre
Io son pur vezzosetta pastorella
O viva fiamma, o miei sospiri ardenti
Dice la mia bellissima Licori
Ecco vicine, o bella tigre, l'ore
Perche fuggi tra' salci, ritrosetta
Interrotte speranze, eterna fede
Augellin che la voce al canto spieghi
Con che soavita, labbra adorate
Romanesca: Ohime, dov'e il mio ben, dov'e il mio core?: Part 1: Ohime, dov'e il mio ben, dov'e il mio core?
Romanesca: Ohime, dov'e il mio ben, dov'e il mio core?: Part 2: Dunque ha potuto sol desio d'onore
Romanesca: Ohime, dov'e il mio ben, dov'e il mio core?: Part 3: Dunque ha potuto in me piu che'l mio amore
Romanesca: Ohime, dov'e il mio ben, dov'e il mio core?: Part 4: Ahi sciocco mondo e cieco, ahi cruda sorte
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