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Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643)
Hor chel ciel e la terra [9.42]
Lamento della ninfa [6.02]
Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda [19.05]
Giovanni Maria TRABACI (c.1575-1647)
Consonanze stravaganti [3.04]
Marco MARAZZOLI (c.1605-1662)
La Fiera di Farfa [33.33]
Le Poème Harmonique/Vincent Dumestre
rec. 2009, Chapel of the Hôpital Notre-Dame du Bon-Secours, Paris
ALPHA CLASSICS 306 [71.31]

This really enjoyable disc containing superb performances is part of the Alpha Collection, a series of 14 discs of music by various baroque composers. The CD is in a card folder with a booklet containing only a track-listing and an interview with the director Vincent Dumestre. The interview does give some information about the music but it is focused on the concept behind the CD as a whole. Texts are available online and can be reached via the given URL if you have a degree in computer science and are good at cryptic crosswords. Even then they cannot be downloaded for use whilst listening. Perhaps this has been 'designed' with the mobile computing generation in mind. Whatever the reason you could be on your own with this CD. Try this link at page 34 onwards on your browser so you can follow the plot as you listen. Fortunately the music is splendidly performed and very cleanly recorded indeed in a spacious acoustic, making for an enjoyable hour or so.

So, what is the 'concept'? If one views Monteverdi as the high-minded master of aristocratic music, represented here with well known extracts from his Eighth Book of Madrigals, most particularly Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, then Marazzoli, his younger contemporary, is the rebellious youth. Marazzoli's La Fiera di Farfa is characterised in the interview as the first musical comedy. Certainly much of it is far from serious and involves muttering, noises, local dialects, a market scene (possibly with animals) and raucous laughter as well as madrigalesque singing. Having the words in front of you, see above, would really help during listening. From the discussion one gathers that this is just one intermedio from a gigantic, five hour, theatrical extravaganza Marazzoli composed for performance in 1637. It clearly satirises Monteverdi's Il combattimento to the extent of plagiarising some of Tasso's text. So the concept of the disc is to couple the satire with its subject. Poor Trabaci gets not one word in the note but his tiny instrumental interlude is only three minutes long and serves to separate the main works.

Dave Billinge



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