Early Music - Monteverdi: Madrigals Book 3 / Longhini, Et Al

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I was not in a Monteverdi mood; I haven't been impressed with Italian vocal ensembles in recent years; and these madrigals never were among my favorite pieces. So, after ignoring this release for a couple of months, I decided to listen to it, fully expecting to move quickly on to something else. What a surprise! These performances turned out to provide one of the more rewarding listening experiences I've had in a long while, the seven male singers (three countertenors, two tenors, baritone, and bass) and their occasional instrumental partners (theorbo and harpsichord) enlivening these works--some of Monteverdi's most colorful and expressive--with deft technique, splendid ensemble blend and balance, and an amazingly rich timbral palette that the performers employ with convincing command of style and consummate good taste.

Although they thankfully resist any temptation to overplay the expressive aspects of the texts and music (poetry by Tasso and Guarini), there's no shortage of drama, as exemplified in such madrigals as Vattene pur crudel (Go then, cruel man) and the following Là tra 'l sangue (There, as you lie suffering)--and perhaps the disc's highlight, O rossignuol ch'in queste verdi fronde (O nightingale who favors a perch among these green boughs). The less overtly theatrical pieces (O dolce anima mia; Ch'io non t'ami, cor mio?) are rendered with the same care for detail and artful phrasing that characterize the entire program, and conductor Marco Longhini's reasonably defensible decision to perform these madrigals with only male singers proves to be a very satisfying one, especially with such attractive, ideally matched, and expressive voices. This is great stuff, recorded in first-rate sound--and I take back what I said about Italian vocal groups and about my lack of enthusiasm for these excellent Monteverdi works. And I strongly urge you to join in the fun! [5/21/2004]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com

Product Description:

  • Release Date: February 01, 2004

  • Catalog Number: 8555309

  • UPC: 747313530922

  • Label: Naxos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Claudio Monteverdi

  • Conductor: Marco Longhini

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Delitiae Musicae