The successor to Music in Europe at the time of the Renaissance, this second volume in our History of Early Music is devoted to the music of the first part of the Baroque period in Italy, from the Florentine Camerata and the first operas to the heirs of Monteverdi; it was at that time that the freedom of structure characteristic of the beginning of the 17th century began to give way to the first traces of formalism. This period covers almost an entire century, beginning with the performances of La Pellegrinamounted in Florence in 1589 and ending with the final operas of Francesco Cavalli in the early 1670s. The sacred and the profane mingled and met during this period, which also saw the birth of accompanied monody, opera and oratorio, virtuoso performance and the sonata; it is precisely this same mix that we see in the Nativity by Caravaggio that appears on the cover of this set. The musical expression of this Baroque aesthetic is the subject of Jérome Lejeune’s accompanying dissertation.
Works of AGOSTINI – BASSANO – BOVICELLI – BUONAMENTE – CACCINI – CAPUANA – CARISSIMI – GRANDI – CAVALIERI – CAVALLI – CAZZATI – CIMA – FANTINI – FARINA – FRESCOBALDI – GABRIELI – KAPSBERGER – LANDI – LEGRENZI – LUZZASCHI – MALVEZZI – MARAZZOLI – MARINI – MAZZOCCHI – MERULA – MONTEVERDI – PERI – PICCHI – PICCININI – ROSSI – SALAVERDE – SANCES – TERZI – TROMBETTI – UCCELLINI
A SEI VOCI (Bernard FABRE-GARRUS) – ACCADEMIA STRUMENTALE ITALIANA – AKADÊMIA (Françoise LASSERRE) – CAPELLA SANCTI MICHAELIS (Erik VAN NEVEL) – CAPPELLA MEDITERRANEA (Leonardo GARCÍA ALARCÓN) – CHŒUR DE CHAMBRE DE NAMUR ( Jean TUBÉRY & Leonardo GARCÍA ALARCÓN) – CLEMATIS (Stéphanie de FAILLY) – CONCERTO ITALIANO (Rinaldo ALESSANDRINI) – CONCERTO PALATINO – CONCERTO SOAVE - DOULCE MÉMOIRE (Denis RAISIN DADRE) – ENSEMBLE AURORA (Enrico GATTI) – L’ACHÉRON (François JOUBERT-CAILLET) – LA FENICE ( Jean TUBÉRY) – LA VENEXIANA – LA VILLANELLA BASEL – LES ARTS FLORISSANTS (William CHRISTIE) – LE MIROIR DE MUSIQUE – LE POÊME HARMONIQUE (Vincent DUMESTRE) – MARE NOSTRUM (Andrea DE CARLO) – ODHECATON (Paolo DA COL) – ROMANESCA – SCHERZI MUSICALI (Nicolas ACHTEN) – TAVERNER CONSORT, CHOIR & PLAYERS (Andrew PARROTT).
Jean-Marc AYMES – Thomas DUNFORD – John ELWES – Mariana FLORES – Ellen HARGIS – Siebe HENSTRA – Marco HORVAT – Roberta INVERNIZZI – Maria Cristina KIEHR Henri LEDROIT – Gustav LEONHARDT – Nigel NORTH – Anna REINHOLD
8 CDs + Booklet - DDD - 10h 28'
The Time of Monteverdi
The set is attractively packaged; it is presented in a gatefold sleeve (202 x 146 x 60mm) with the book in the front slot and the wallet containing the discs in the rear. Before we address the music we must discuss the book, as it is this which for me makes this set as valuable as it is. Jérôme Lejeune has not just written notes to accompany the music, rather the music has been chosen to accompany the book. It contains what can best be described as a thesis in which Lejeune sets out his argument, fairly well too, for a new understanding of the concept of ‘The Baroque’. Only then does he go on to discuss aspects of the music of the period. There he talks of composers without overtly referring to some of the works presented on the accompanying discs. He has divided the book into sections Secular Vocal Music and the Birth of Opera. He examines the development of the cantata, as well as that of opera, with Monteverdi’s ‘Orfeo’ being singled out as “the apotheosis of the Renaissance”. This is followed by sections on Sacred Music, Instrumental Music: Canzoni, Sonate and Balli and Instrumental Music for Polyphonic Instruments. This very full survey goes beyond the musical examples presented here. It has however presented a problem for me in that I am now seeking further recordings to illustrate the words presented in this book.
The music is laid out following the same sections as the book, with discs 1-4 dealing with secular music, discs 5 and 6 (tr. 1-9) the sacred music, with the remainder dedicated to chamber and instrumental music. Although the set is entitled “The Time Of Monteverdi”, this is hardly a set dedicated to him and his circle. Indeed, of the 134 tracks, only 23 are by the great man, with the others presenting the wide diversity of the music of the period. Some pieces are by composers whose names I only know from footnotes of musical history. On this reckoning they deserve greater recognition. The set has been well sourced with the with most recordings coming from Ricercar and other Outhere labels. There are also recordings from Virgin, Harmonia Mundi, DHM, Erato and MDG. However the choice of Glossa’s set of the Complete Madrigals Books (Glossa 920929) to illustrate the works of Monteverdi was a master-stroke as I have always felt that this set gives great insight into his madrigals. All the works are presented in excellent recordings, with some becoming new favourites of mine. They have all been captured in excellent sound. On this evidence I will be looking at investing in the previous volume of this series.