This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
No longer confined to dusty tomes, Wert's madrigals leap off the page in unfailingly sensitive performances.
As might be expected, this is an excellent recording with the Consort of Musicke in superb form and a well-balanced, crystal-clear sound from the production team for the Virgin Classics Veritas label. What will come as more of a surprise is the music of the Mantuan maestro di cappella Giaches de Wert, a familiar enough figure in the history books as Monteverdi's predecessor and mentor at the Gonzaga court, but whose madrigals are still largely confined to tomes on dusty library shelves. No longer: in these performances of his Seventh Book of Madrigals of 1581 they leap off the page, teeming with the musical ideas
triggered by the composer's imaginative and often inspired response to his texts.
Indeed, the verse set by Wert is of the exceptionally high quality that is characteristic of the Mantuan court towards the end of the sixteenth century: sonnets by Petrarch and Tasso, poems by Ariosto and Guarini, it makes good reading by itself, a point reinforced by Avril Bardoni's readable translations in the accompanying booklet. But how the conceits—delicate or sensuous—and images—sweet or dramatic—are enhanced by Wert's settings. With varied vocal scoring, sudden shifts in texture, vivid madrigalisms in response to individual key words such as 'streams' or 'abyss' 'weeping' or 'trembling', and harmonic nuance he rarely fails, if ever, to capture the essence, the hidden emotional agenda of each text. Certainly, as the succinct but informative note by John Whenham suggests, one of the most striking of Wert's settings is that of Petrarch's sonnet Solo e penoso, with its experimental use of wide leaps to express first the sense of desolation experienced by the poet and later the rugged path he must follow (almost an early example of the 'pathetic fallacy' in music). This is one of his most overtly bold and graphic pictorialisms in this volume, but there are so many other inspired and expressive passages that I can only encourage readers to listen out for and relish them themselves.
The Consort of Musicke have already proved the validity of presenting the contents of one madrigal publication as a recording entity, and Wert's Seventh Book responds well to this treatment, the increase in the number of voices in the last three madrigals, and the framing Gonzaga wedding tributes lending it a natural sense of cogency and musical climax. The singing is unfailingly sensitive to the implications of the words, melodic lines are shaped with admirable care, and the balance between voices allows the textures to breathe, the harmonies to glow. (Just occasionally I would have liked a touch more spontaneity, but put that down to a personal quibble.) A sense of urgency and emotional intensity is there when required: try the spark of passion in the first terzetto of Tasso's Donna se ben le chiome or the palpable emotion at the exclamation ''ahi lasso'' in the sonnet by Luigi Tansillo, Io mi vivea del mio languir. Languorous or ardent, speculative or sated, every aspect of the emotions aroused is here explored in the refined musical idiom of the late sixteenth century.
-- Tess Knighton, Gramophone [12/1989]
Works on This Recording
Il settimo libro de madrigali by Giaches de Wert
Alan Ewing (Bass),
Evelyn Tubb (Soprano),
Andrew King (Tenor),
Rufus Müller (Tenor),
Suzie LeBlanc (Soprano),
Michael Chance (Countertenor),
Mary Nichols (Alto),
Emma Kirkby (Soprano)
Consort of Musicke
Written: by 1581; Italy
Be the first to review this title