MONTEVERDI Il pianto della Madonna
Most of Arianna’s Lament from Monteverdi’s lost opera Arianna (1608) survives in his Sixth Book of Madrigals (1614) as a five-voice madrigal; and it appears again in his Selva morale (1640) as a solo – which is surely what Monteverdi originally wrote – but with a sacred Latin text, Iam moriar, mi fili. The novelty on this issue is that Giuseppe Maletto has applied that sacred text to all five voices of the Sixth Book version. The result is a magnificent ‘new’ sacred motet by Monteverdi lasting over 15 minutes. The remainder of the disc focuses on the less well-known corners of Monteverdi’s sacred output, including sacred retextings by Aquilino Coppini of famous madrigals and five motets only known from Giulio Cesare Bianchi’s two publications of 1620, ending with the large Letaniae della Beata Virgine.
But the main virtue of this issue is obviously the singing of La Compagnia del Madrigale, a group that essentially began life in Claudio Cavina’s group La Venexiana and became independent in 2009 as Cavina’s career moved more into opera. This is a superb ensemble, with the wonderful Rossana Bertini as first soprano and with Maletto perhaps as the guiding force, though they identify no ‘leader’ as such. Their sound is beautifully focused, with just enough expression to make the best of the music without exaggerating anything. What is also clear is that they are all fully inside Monteverdi’s style and his music; and after earlier discs devoted to Marenzio and Gesualdo it is very good to welcome these musicians back into the world of Monteverdi. The sound quality and the presentation are admirably clear.