Monteverdi Che soave armonia

Imaginative singing, fine instrumental work and a cleverly thought-out programme make this an appealing collection of works from the seventeenth century

Author: 
Lindsay Kemp

Monteverdi Che soave armonia

  • Lamento d'Arianna
  • Madrigals, Book 4 (Il quarto libro de madrigali), A un giro sol de' bell'occhi lucenti (wds. Guarini
  • Madrigals, Book 4 (Il quarto libro de madrigali), La piaga c'ho nel core
  • Madrigals, Book 7 (Concerto: settimo libro de madr, Con che soavita (wds. Guarini)
  • Aria d'Armonia
  • Hor ch'ascoso nel'onde il Dio del lume
  • Accenti queruli
  • Lamento della Regina d'Inghilterra
  • Libro quarto di sonate, `La Cetra', Sonata sesta a 4
  • In te, Domine, speravi
  • Nisi Dominus

This is one of those CDs where, if you read the booklet-note beforehand, your head starts swimming and you begin to wonder if you will ever grasp what it is all about, yet the moment you put the disc on, the music takes over and you forget about everything else. Erin Headley’s multi-national group (featuring a strong Eastern European contingent) was set up to explore the warm and richly varied string sounds created by the combination of violins, viols and continuo, and understandably Headley expends a veritable babble of words on the subject of violins, viols, viole bastarde and so on; but nothing speaks so eloquently as the sound they actually make, and in this selection of music from early-seventeenth-century Italy they make a very lovely one indeed.
There are familiar pieces here, though not always in familiar guise: Monteverdi’s vocal duet Zefiro torna is performed as an instrumental piece, his heart-rending Lamento d’Arianna, with a concocted string accompaniment (there is mention of one at the first performance). And then there are interesting rarities, such as Bertali’s long lament of the Queen of England (she being Charles I’s consort Henrietta) , and a sombre night-piece by Maurizio Cazzati. As so often with this repertoire - surely a high point in the art of combining words and music - one is struck by just how directly such apparently simple music can speak to us. Well performed, as it is here, the effect can be captivating.
As well as sensuous string playing, there is fine expressive singing from Canadian soprano Laurie Reviol to aid the disc’s success, a typically rock-solid (if less imaginative) contribution from Harry van der Kamp, and to top it all a sensitive and natural recorded sound. This is the kind of disc which is easily overlooked, but which should certainly repay anyone’s interest.'

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