Monteverdi: Heaven and Earth was recorded in 2002 and released in 2013 by the Vivat label. Nothing in the packaging indicates the reason for the delay, but the ingenious quality of this little release is shown by the fact that it still sounds fresh more than a decade later. The Heaven and Earth title refers to love, which afflicts gods and humans alike, and the booklet presents the program as a collection of Monteverdi love songs. So it is, but most of Monteverdi's music refers to love in one way or another, and some of the pieces here are actually rather tangential to the theme. Actually, it makes more sense to regard this album as a collection of Monteverdi's greatest hits, and there are few others available. The program traverses opera and madrigals, with the famous madrigal-like Zefiro torna, from the 1632 collection Scherzi musicali, also included. The operatic pieces are ingeniously reduced to chamber dimensions, with groups of historically authentic plucked strings (chitarroni, guitars) joining the keyboard continuo instrument. Brass and winds are included only once, and the King's Consort under Robert King makes you forget the larger group that would have been present in the operatic pieces originally. The singing is superb throughout, with sopranos Carolyn Sampson, Rebecca Outram, and Julie Cooper throwing themselves especially nicely into the unresolved dissonances that express love's sweet pain, and that caused such a fuss when this music was first performed. A very attractive introduction to Monteverdi's music.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|L'Incoronazione di Poppea|
|Lamento d'Arianna (from Sixth Book of Madrigals)|