Festa Teatrale

This sound-recording from the two festivals has some ingenious touches, but the theatricality you’d expect is missing here

Author: 
Fabrice Fitch

Festa Teatrale

  • Festa, riso
  • Lumi polele piangere
  • Madrigals, Book 5 (Il quinto libro de madrigali), Questi vaghi concenti
  • (The) Sylvan and Oceanic delights of Posilipo, Canto d'Amore (Lambardi)
  • Recercada quinto sobre el passamezzo antiguo
  • Madrigals, Book 7 (Concerto: settimo libro de madr, Vorrei baciarti, O Filli (wds. Marini)
  • Mascherata della Malinconia e Allerezza
  • Scherzi musicali, Damigella tutta bella (wds. Chiabrera)
  • Sonata in dialogo detta la Viena
  • Madrigals, Book 7 (Concerto: settimo libro de madr, A quest'olmo, a quest'ombra (wds. Marini)
  • Ciaccona
  • Sia maledetto Amore
  • Sia benedetto Amore
  • (L') Innamorato
  • (Il) bell' humore
  • Amor vittorioso

The opening track of this festival recreation starts with a familiar ostinato rhythm, reminiscent of carnivals, that gets things off to a flying start. We are invited to imagine festive scenes enacted in Venice or Florence around the turn of the 17th century. This disc was made in conjunction with staged performances in which the performers dressed up as characters from the commedia dell’arte. These must have been involving to watch, but that sense of excitement is lacking from the sound-recording alone. It is difficult to imagine revellers stopping to listen to a recercada for viol, for example. The same might be said of some of the madrigals by Monteverdi included here, beautiful though they obviously are.
For those willing to suspend disbelief in the interests of a varied programme, this recital is not without its ingenious moments. The transition from the opening ballo to the contrasting lament by Legrenzi is imaginatively managed; but in other cases the inherent theatricality of the music is underplayed (surprisingly enough, given the project’s theme), its metre not always stretched or pulled as fancifully as one might expect. The sensuality of Monteverdi’s Vorrei baciarti barely registers, and the vocal phrasing of the lament lacks the elasticity essential in a ground-bass piece. One might also query the choral approach to Monteverdi’s madrigals A quest’olmo and Questi vaghi concenti, which creates a disagreeable sectionalisation between the vocal ensemble and the soloists, not to mention a regrettable loss of rhythmic fluidity (the same goes for the unnecessary doubling of instrumental lines in Merula’s well-known Ciaccona). I simply fail to hear the need for more than one voice to a part in this repertory. In short, after a rather breathless start the recording fails to come alive, and for most of the pieces here more sharply etched performances spring to mind.'

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