"For the non-specialist," observed Early Music World, "detailed consideration of Marenzio's large body of madrigals remains a vain quest in the light of the lack of comprehensive accessibility to either printed or recorded music." This release from Spain's Glossa label helps rectify the situation with precise yet stylistically sensitive performances of a key set of Luca Marenzio madrigals from the vocal group La Venexiana. Marenzio was the most famous Italian madrigalist of the late 16th century, known to English composers as well as those on home ground (and he traveled as far as Poland, perhaps having had to make himself scarce after an illicit relationship with a relative of the Pope). General listeners may have the impression that the monodic style of Monteverdi's operas and later madrigal books represented a sharp break from the polyphonic madrigal, but in fact the evolution was more gradual; opera had predecessors in madrigals in a more declamatory style and in big dramatic presentations on pastoral themes called intermedi. Marenzio's Sixth Book of Madrigals, published in 1594 and recorded here, shows the full range of his style, from tortured chromaticism that approaches the style of the last and most decadent of the Renaissance madrigalists, Carlo Gesualdo, to broad, pleasant pastoral scenes featuring the shepherdesses Clori and Amarilli that clearly pointed the way toward what was to come. The inclusion of a lute version of one piece, Clori mia, Clori dolce, oh sempre novo (My Cloris, sweet Cloris, ah, always new), shows how advanced the idea of a soprano melodic line had already become in Marenzio's hands. Throughout, Marenzio's exquisitely sensitive responses to text are beautifully rendered by the singers, but buyers of the CD version should note that texts are given in Italian only. Strongly recommended for lovers of madrigals in any language.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Sesto Libro de Madrigali|