The Italian label Tactus specializes in the rediscovery of forgotten repertory, mostly from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Research is definitely a higher priority than performance quality, and in this particular case the performances are pretty rough, right from the very first sung note. The intontation is a problem throughout, and the sound is terrible. All this said, those interested in Italian music of the late 16th century, from the period just before the emergence of opera, may find these virtually unknown works intriguing. They are madrigals for five voices, here sparsely accompanied by harpsichord and sometimes recorder. They do not follow the experimental chromaticism of the Mannerist tradition that culminated in the work of Carlo Gesualdo, but neither do they look back to previous styles. Instead, they are melodic, rather pastoral, and frequently, it seems, illustrative of the texts (given in Italian only, but the booklet notes, in English, discuss each piece in some detail). These madgrials are the counterparts of the larger semi-dramatic pieces, the outdoor court intermedi that are so easy to imagine for the visitor to the Italian palaces of the day. They help to illuminate an important period of music history, and the musical life of a place, Bologna, that hasn't received the general attention given other Italian cities of the period. Large Renaissance collections may find a place for this release, although general listeners will have problems with it.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim