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Monteverdi: Secondo libro de' madrigali a cinque voci.

For sheer sensual pleasure, the recording of Claudio Monteverdi: Secondo libro de' madrigal) a cinque voci (1590) (Opus, OPS 30-111, rec 1994), by Concerto Italiano under the direction of Rinaldo Alessandrini, sets a standard I defy anyone-to beat. I loved this group on first hearing their recording of Monteverdi's book 6 in 1993 and they have improved since then in technique and confidence without losing their spontaneity. Their intonation, ensemble and blend are nearly flawless on this recording, while their sumptuous singing, less aggressive and dramatic than their interpretation of book 6, does not prevent them from conveying all the interest in the text and music.

Book 2 is a particularly striking example of Monteverdi (at this stage an ambitious 23-year-old looking to escape from Cremona) seeking models of current trends in the madrigal, finding a particularly fine example in Marenzio's pastoral madrigals, and devoting a book to trying to outdo Marenzio before moving on to something different. A comparison with the Silvio and Dorinda settings from book 5 (1605), the final item on I Febi Armonici's disc reviewed below, is particularly revealing. The 1605 music is clearly, uncomfortably, transitional: what in 1590 would have been a natural, flexible repetition of the text has by 1605 become a rather wishy-washy formlessness in search of the more definite boundaries that Monteverdi begins to establish in book 6. Book 2, by contrast, is utterly assured in its grasp of Marenzian tonalities and formal structures, yet also fresh and inventive.

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Title Annotation:Concerto Italiano, Rinaldo Alessandrini
Author:Mabbett, Margaret
Publication:Early Music
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:May 1, 1996
Previous Article:Pallavicino: Il sesto libro de madrigali a cinque voci: 1600.
Next Article:Monteverdi: Madrigali Guerrieri et amorosi libro ottavo.

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