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Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567–1643)
Il Delirio Della Passione
Anna Lucia Richter (soprano)
Ensemble Claudiana/Luca Pianca
rec. 2-5 January 2020, Auditorio Stelio Molo, Radiotelevisione svizzera di lingua italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
PENTATONE PTC5186845 [62:25]

An attractive recording: good singing and playing, bright and attractive interpretations, and Pentatone’s usual high production values. Yet this disc of excerpts from the various aspects of the great Monteverdi’s output is not all it seems.

It opens with a splendid performance of the Prologue 'Dal mio Parnasso amato' from L'Orfeo. Anna Lucia Richter’s credentials as an interpreter of this music are clear: strongly articulated singing and a detailed support from Luca Pianca and the Ensemble Claudiana. But it goes downhill with the next track, Zefiro torna (one of my go-to Monteverdi pieces). I am used to the opening refrain “Zefiro, Zefiro” answered by the second voice singing “Zefiro torna”. Here the second voice has been given over to the solo violin of Dimitri Sinkovsky (I think), who also adds the countertenor voice as the work progresses. Other examples of additional instrumental ornamentation on this disc are less obtrusive; some even add to the overall excitement – but this arrangement does not work, and detracts from the music. A shame, because the singing is impressively lively.

An engaging performance of La mia turca gets a more than normal Middle-Eastern feel. The opening instrumental section works well here, setting the scene for the vocal line. In Lamento d'Arianna, Anna Lucia Richter once again shows her class as she gets every ounce of emotion. The performance, whilst not the slowest on disc, allows time to develop the angst of the music.

More highlights: in Pur ti miro from L'Incoronazione di Poppea, Richter is again joined by Sinkovsky, and in Lamento della Ninfa by tenors Ciro and Teo Aroni and bass Alessandro Ravasio in another rewarding performance. But it is the instrumental accompaniments that hold the excitement. Andrea Inghisciano’s cornetto adds elan. This exciting interpretation of Monteverdi does not always hit the mark, but other than Zefiro torna it has a lot going for it.

Anna Lucia Richter’s singing is fine, as is the playing of Ensemble Claudiana. They add an edge of colour not always present in recordings of this music. The recorded sound, clear and detailed brings the most out of the performance. The booklet notes contain full sung texts with English and German translations. All in all, a well performed selection of Monteverdi’s music, but one not for the purist. It offers colourful interpretations at the expense of the composer’s originality.

Stuart Sillitoe

L’Orfeo (1607)
1) Prologue ‘Dal mio Permesso amato’ [5.44]
Scherzi musicali (1632)
2) Zefiro torna [6.23]
Quarto scherzo delle ariose vaghezze (1624)
3) La mia turca [2.18]
Lamento d'Arianna (1623)
4) Lasciatemi morire [2.21]
5) O Teseo, o Teseo mio [3.48]
6) Dove, dov’è la fede [1.46]
7) Ahi, che non pur rispondi [4.19]
L’incoronazione di Poppea (1643)
8) Pur ti miro [3.54]
Scherzi musicali (1632)
9) Et è pur dunque vero [7.39]
Confitebor tibi domine (1641)
10) Confitebor tibi domine [8.33]
Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi [Book 8] (1638)
11) Lamento della Ninfa [6.58]
Quarto scherzo delle ariose vaghezze (1624)
12) Si dolce è il tormento [4.30]
13) Ohimè ch’io cado [4.03]

Other singers
Dimitri Sinkovsky (countertenor) (tracks 2 and 8)
Ciro Aroni (tenor) (track 11)
Teo Aroni (tenor) (track 11)
Alessandro Ravasio (bass) (track 11)

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