La Compagnia del Madrigale
It is interesting to compare this CD of five-part madrigals by Gesualdo sung by an Italian ensemble with the English Marian Consort’s account of Gesualdo’s five-part sacred music. Both ensembles sing one to a part and enjoy an impressive perfection of balance, ensemble and intonation. The Italian sound however is much more ‘fronty’ and brash, particularly noticeable in the tenor and soprano singing, and the individual voices much more prominent in the overall texture. Perhaps this is particularly the case as the Italians are singing secular music and the English sacred music, but the slightly edgy almost reedy sound would I think be equally effective in Gesualdo’s church music. One feature which I hadn’t noticed hitherto in the Compagnia del Madrigale’s performances, is a slight tendency to wobble in the soprano part when there is a dramatic decrescendo, almost as if the vocal production is stalling. This is a shame, and if – as I suspect – it is an affectation, I don’t like it. I am sure that singing in their native language gives the Compagnia del Madrigale an edge with this highly expressive repertoire, and of all the many ensembles recording Italian madrigals at the moment they are undoubtedly one of the most exciting.
D. James Ross