Il Trionfo di Dori
It has traditionally been something of a rarity for The King’s Singers to produce either a single-composer disc or a compilation of exclusively early repertoire, but Richafort’s Requiem (7/13) and ‘The Triumphs of Oriana’ have shown an increase in the frequency with which they choose to address these particular projects. ‘Il trionfo di Dori’ is another such welcome addition: a complete account of the 29-madrigal collection commissioned in 1592 by the Venetian nobleman Leonardo Sanudo, including works by such compositional luminaries as Vecchi, Gabrieli and Marenzio, as well as some composers rendered less lustrous by time.
The customary perfection of their tuning and ensemble are emblematic of performances that can be filed as ‘definitive’ in a repertory where the artistry of the music is so much held hostage to the tuning of its performance. However, in this music – the crystalline polyphony of the Renaissance – the question of interpretation is more complex and less of an unassailable absolute than tuning and blend. Inasmuch as a generalist close-harmony group can perhaps not be expected to release a disc that could be as specialist as one of, say, La Compagnia del Madrigali (who display, for instance, brighter, more aggressive vowel sounds that are perhaps more idiomatically Italian), this is music given much assistance by the performance of a group properly habituated to each other. The King’s Singers bring a sense of perfect social grace and urbanity to this music – the most refined example of its art of the period, lacing together the lines of the repertoire in a way that gives it elegant authority, as much in the musical vines of Marenzio’s ‘Leggiadre ninfe’ as the intricate ‘Quando dal terzo cielo’, Palestrina’s single (but complex) appearance on this disc. It is hard to imagine a group with greater potential to do justice to this music of love and mythology than they.