Notes and Editorial Reviews
An imaginative release covering often little known ground.
This ingeniously constructed programme celebrates the so-called Estense Courtship in Ferrara toward the end of the Sixteenth Century. It also relates specifically to the Concerto delle Dame, in which gifted women sang, and to one especially gifted singer in particular, Laura Peperara. The complexities of these concerts and the alliances, wooing, and marriages are outlined in the booklet and make for good reading. I’ll leave you to follow the twisting trails of the times. The recording plays on the relationship between the music and the poetry – there are poems by Tasso, for example.
The Madrigals are by a variety of composers. The programming is such that it seeks to evoke Peperana’s arrival in Ferrara, then her singing, and then introduces a series of Madrigals composed by Luzzaschi with their manifold embellishments. Later we hear some Madrigals by Agostini which were written specifically for Laura and her equally virtuosic singing colleague (and lutenist) Anna Guarini, daughter of the poet Battista.
That welcoming Madrigal is Luzzaschi’s ardent Da l’odorate spoglie. The other major Madrigalist is Agostini and his Da l’odorate spoglie is a richly phrased affair, excellently rendered here by sopranos Silvia Frigato and Miho Kamiya. Their voices blend extremely well throughout the recital, as they demonstrate in the same composer’s Poi che del vostro canto. The four solo songs, parcelled out two to each, are equally well done. Kamiya for example uses her chest voice effectively in the internalised dialogue of Aura soave. The virtuosic little runs and flurries that illuminate Ch’io non t’ami cor mio – one of a number of Madrigals written some time in the early 1580s but not published until 1601 – attest to the ‘heart’ and ‘desire’ explored in Guarini’s hothouse poetry. Indeed one finds all the composers responding with immediacy and expressive ‘affect’ to the intimacy of the lyric poetry. Frigato sings O Primavera, another Luzzaschi setting, and the rich growth of nature is contrasted with the regretful lack of amorous success of the suitor. The ornaments here are florid and, though varied, do sound too much of a good thing, especially given the rather repetitious nature of the setting.
Silvia Rambaldi is the third partner in the success of the disc. She plays Luzzaschi’s Toccata with its verdant Madrigalian lyricism – and a rare example of his purely instrumental music. Jaches Wert’s Cara la vita mia (1558) is played in her own harpsichord realisation. And she also plays Frescobaldi’s Toccata IX finely. Her accompaniment elsewhere is equally persuasive and varied.
We also have full texts in Italian with English translation. Which brings me to my only real disappointment and that’s the recording, made in the Museo Archeologico di Ferrara. The sound is rather billowy but most disappointing is the fact that Rambaldi’s harpsichord is so distantly balanced.
Other than that this is an imaginative release covering often little known ground.
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International