Notes and Editorial Reviews
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The Eighth Book of Madrigals, subdivided into a substantial series of vocal and instrumental partbooks, contains some of Monteverdi's greatest music. In this sumptuous collection the material is carefully arranged by category into madrigals of war, love and those for the stage, with a wide array of human passions and compositional styles. This is the first recording to present Book Eight in its original, uncut form, also incorporating instrumental sinfonias and dances by Biagio Marini to round off Monteverdi's design. In keeping with
seventeenth-century practice, the madrigals are performed entirely by male voices, including a boy soprano in the role of Cupid.
The quality of the performances is extremely high. Technical prowess is always in the service of the music, and Marco Longhini is not averse to pushing his all-male ensemble to extremes of slow or fast tempos or to special vocal effects. Another strength of this excellent interpretation is the size and scope of the instrumental forces. There are 9 players in the continuo group, a further 9 in a mostly string ensemble (including 2 recorders), and a viola da gamba quartet. This gives Marco Longhini a very wide palette to draw on for dramatic power, theatrical variety, and evocative effect.
– American Record Guide
As Longhini has pointed out in previous releases, the instruments to be used is largely left to the performers, and in the composer’s day would probably have depended on those available. In this series of discs he has opted for a ‘middle-of-the-road’ approach, so as not to become ornate, yet providing more that an obliging backdrop. In the vocal group there are, of course, no female voices in music of that period, so that much rests on the shoulders of the outstanding countertenor, Alessandro Carmignani. Yet again I will heap praise on the sonorous bass voice of Walter Testolin, his deep voice is an earthy delight. Solos permeate all of the madrigals, and when numerous voices are used, the Delitiae’s blend is pure joy. Longhini's approach throughout this series has that feel of dedication and authenticity, the music continually intriguing, immediately likeable, and, in every way, it has been a wonderful experience with this as its crowning glory. The engineers have once again played their part in the clarity of texture they have created. It is terribly sad that it is coming to an end, but there remains just one more book, the unfinished Ninth, that was published after the composers death.
– David's Review Corner (David Denton) Read less
Works on This Recording
Madrigals, Book 8 by Claudio Monteverdi
Written: by 1638; Italy
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