Per un bacio - 17th Century Italian Cantatas & Madrigals
The standard textbook view is that Italian solo songs (together with duets and trios) were an early 17th-century ‘invention’, facilitated by the arrival of the basso continuo. In practice, there is not only the usual story of precedents from the previous century, but also the performance tradition of rearranging fully vocal textures for solo voice and accompaniment. The real novelty of the printed songbooks that followed on the heels of Caccini’s pathbreaking collection Le nuove musiche is an aesthetic one in which the accent is now on the myriad possibilities of the human voice, the expressive power of texts, and the ability of music to fuse words and sound to move the affections.
In recent years a good deal of this repertory has appeared on disc – much music by Monteverdi of course, but also songs by D’India and Michelangelo Rossi. This new anthology is to be welcomed for its careful selection, grouped around the central theme of the paradoxes of love, with Ferrari’s Cantata spirituale adding a slightly different inflection. From this, and from two other pieces on the record, Ferrari emerges as a composer of considerable interest, as might be suspected from the possible author of ‘Pur ti miro, pur ti godo’, the final duet as it appears in the manuscripts of L’incoronazione di Poppea. Marta Almajano delivers a bright sound which vibrates with life, at times perhaps a little too hard-edged, and is expertly and sensitively accompanied. Above all, these performances are remarkable for the emotional range of her singing and for her dazzingly displays of virtuosity. This disc is packed with pleasurable surprises for anyone keen to explore some of the little-known byways of a rich repertory.