CPO have already released several recordings made by Roland
Wilson and Musica Fiata, with or without La Capella Ducale.
These have featured the works of Johann Schelle (review),
Johann Pachelbel (review),
Giacomo Carissimi (review),
Samuel Scheidt (review),
Scheidt again (review),
Dieterich Buxtehude (review)
and Johann Förtsch (review).
Almost all the criticism has been positive, and this latest
disc, devoted to Claudio Monteverdi's shamefully neglected contemporary
Giovanni Valentini, now joins that lustrous discography.
As the incomplete list above indicates, Musica Fiata and its
sister organisation La Capella Ducale, both founded by Roland
Wilson, have been performing this kind of repertoire for two
or three decades now and can safely be said to live and breathe
it. La Capella Ducale's performances here, often requiring considerable
virtuosity, are sensitive, communicative and persuasively authentic-sounding,
with ensemble singing as harmonious as the soloists are assured.
The period instruments, all listed in the booklet (albeit only
in Italian), sound splendid, their individual contributions
delineated with admirable transparency, steered from within
by Wilson also playing the cornettino, which he memorably exchanges
in one song for the exotic rossignolo di creta - a water-filled
To judge by the appearance of their names, most of the six members
of La Capella Ducale are likely German speakers, but their Italian
is very good indeed. In the song texts, 'ghiaccio' is misspelt
'ghiacchio', but pronounced correctly by the singers, whereas
'agghiacciato' is spelt correctly, but mispronounced, as if
spelt 'aggiacciato'. Such errors are few and far between, however,
and the group's diction is convincing overall.
Giovanni Valentini's place in music history is assured, in that
his Second Book of Madrigals of 1616 was the first published
collection that added instruments to voices - and not just perfunctorily.
The Musiche Concertate, essentially a suite of madrigals of
Monteverdian colour, stakes out a cogent case based now on the
music itself that should help move him out of Monteverdi's shadow.
These are many-sided, expressive, ambitious and aesthetically
delectable love songs of considerable originality that deserve
to be heard alongside those of Gabrieli and Monteverdi.
The recording is excellent. There are only really two minor
complaints for consideration: the relative shortness of the
CD - CPO seem congenitally disinclined to go much over the hour
- and the translation of notes into English: when will CPO at
least have a native proof-reader look over Susan Praeder's renderings
to convert them into idiomatic English? "The present
recording does its good part", "the composer again
draws on this so very unusual item of usage", "the
collection does not bear an ordering number" - these are
all examples of how not to write English. Unfortunately the
song texts are affected in the same way: "Dear loving play,
with which my life invites me to love" is Praeder's version
of a line which means "fond affectation of love with which
the love of my life invites me to love". Much of the translation
is fine, it must be said, but these slips are the result of
an inadequate knowledge of idioms and detract from the overall
quality of the product. The booklet does give Valentini's birth
year as 1582, yet most sources, including New Grove, are equivocal,
citing 1582 or 1583. Finally, the photo in the booklet
of Wilson posing up a tree is an enigma of the highest order.
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