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Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1641)
Daylight: Stories of Songs, Dances and Loves
Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
rec. October 2020, Sala della Carita, Padova, Italy
NAVE OP7366 [61:47]

The title may be a bit of a mouthful but it does tell you what you mainly need to know. Starting with the break of day, we are taken through the lives of young lovers via madrigals and dances. These were composed by Monteverdi throughout his life, drawing on examples from the madrigal books and three of the operas. These pieces are interspersed with four dances by Andrea Falconiero and Biagio Marini, which often segue into or from a madrigal, as with Zefiro torno going into Falconiero’s Ciaccona (tracked separately) or Alla danza, alle goie, which is abruptly halted by Marini’s Corrente Nona – on the same track.

After a brief, quiet Sinfonia from Orfeo we have a double madrigal, which also opens Monteverdi’s 2nd Book of 1590. Young lovers awaking at dawn only to part at first light, la Romeo and Juliet. These magical performances set the tone for much of what is to follow. These madrigals were previously recorded in 1994 by Concerto Italiano but here they have instrumental support – or, I should say, instrumental colour. If I find them a little more matter-of-fact on this new disc, then I don’t feel the same about their rendition of Io mi son gioventta from the composer’s 4th book (recorded in 1993) which, at a slightly steadier tempo, catches the elusive mood brilliantly.

But I’ve jumped ahead. The lovers then awake, as do the Shepherds and Shepherdesses. They sing to “celebrate beauty in joyous song” (De la bellezza) The pain of love is sometimes recognised as in the extract, Duri e penosi from Il ritorno di Ulisse, but also the joy of coming together once again and often through dance, for instance in Io mi son giovinetta.

The whole point of this disc, recorded during the lockdown, is one of joy in love and dance, and how uplifting it must have been for the performers. There are some quiet moments of reflection, as well as love duets extracted from operas, but most of the time you are foot-tapping and smiling your way through this music. This is one disc which you could play through without a stop; indeed, Alessandrini might have wanted you do just that, as the gaps between the items are often non-existent.

It was back in 2016 that the concept of this ‘entertainment’ was first conceived in preparation for the Monteverdi anniversary celebrations of the following year. In his booklet essay, Alessandrini says he wanted to express the idea of “awakening from sleep populated by phantasms and passionate emotions ….and to bring humankind back to its reality and the possibility of living out love, joy and passion anew in the sunlight”. He continues by saying that the recording is a “definite confession of the love for Monteverdi, to whom after more than forty years…. I owe much of what I have learned.”

All texts are given in a colourful and somewhat extravagant fifty-six-page booklet. It therefore has to come in a cardboard casing and is adorned with some oddly mysterious images. As a helpful addition, there is a useful essay by Christophe Georgis taking you through the background to each piece

Gary Higginson
All music by Monteverdi unless otherwise stated
1. Sinfonia: from Orfeo
2-3. Non si levava ancor l’alba novella (from Madrigals Book 2)
4. Sinfonia: Concerto (from Madrigals book 4)
5. S, s us pastorella vezzosi (from Madrigals, guerrieri et amorosi)
6. S, s, augelletti (from Madrigals Book 9)
7. Biagio MARINI (1594-1663) Gagliardo seconda
8. S, s, s ch’el giorno  fore (from Canzonetta 1584)
9. De la bellezza le dovute lodi (from Scherzi musicale)
10. Duri e penosi (from Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria Act 1)
11. Io mi son giovinetta (from Madrigals Book 4)
12. Zefiro torna (from Scherzi Musicale)
13. Andrea FALCONIERO (c.1585-1656) Ciaccona-L’eroica
14. Sento un certo non so ch (from L’incoronazione di Poppea Act 2)
15. MARINI Gagliardo seconda
16. Chiome d’oro bel Tesoro (from Canzonetta 1619)
17. Alla danze, alle gioie (from Madrigals Book 9)
MARINI Corrente nona
18. Movete al mio bel suon le piante snelle
19. Balletto entrata – balletto-gagliardo- canario-gagliardo-balletto- moresca
      (From Orfeo)
20. Gli arditi balli e l’armonia dei canti (from Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi)

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