René Jacobs / Concerto Vocale

Monteverdi: Madrigali guerrieri ed amorosi

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This two-disc set introduces the listener to the passionate, agitated, even troubled world of Monteverdi's (1567-1643) extraordinary eighth book of madrigals, consisting of Canti guerrieri (Warrior songs) and Canti amorosi (Love Songs), and performed with exquisite taste, imagination, and passion by the vocal soloists and instrumentalists of Concerto Vocale under the direction of Rene Jacobs. Monteverdi's artistic intention, as he stated in his preface, was to compose music reflecting the "three essential passions" of the soul: anger, temperance, and humility or prayer. As music, according to Monteverdi, had never expressed anger, he set himself the task of expressing this passion using the appropriate mode of musical expression, which he called stile concitato (agitated style). The first group of madrigals is dominated by the Combat of Tancred and Clorinda, more of a musical drama than a madrigal, is from Tasso's epic poem "Jerusalem Delivered" and describes the tragic duel in which a Crusader mortally wounds an enemy, only to fall in love with his dying opponent upon realizing that he had fought against a woman. Narrating the story, baritone Victor Torres brilliantly compensates with his compelling virtuosity for the discursive moments in this work (when the narrative impulse overpowers the music), and soprano Salome Haller, as the dying Clorinda, effects a miraculous transition from the world of mortal combat to a realm of supernatural tranquility. Other high points of this set are mezzo Bernarda Fink's beautifully ethereal realization of the Lamento della Ninfa (Canti amorosi) and the magical rendition of Now That Heaven and Earth and the Wind Are Silent, a setting (Canti guerrieri) of Petrarch's great sonnet, in which the listener discerns the metaphorical connection between love and war.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
4:24
2
8:44
3
3:00
4
3:50
5
5:46
6
2:38
7
1:59
Lamento Della Ninfa, madrigal in 3 sections for 1-4 voices (from Book 8), SV 163
8
5:57
9
4:21
10
2:22
11
2:59
Ballo delle ingrate, semi-dramatic ballet (from Book 8), SV 167
12
2:27
13
2:36
14
8:47
15
14:16
16
4:45
blue highlight denotes track pick