Agostini, Gesualdo, Luzzaschi, Monteverdi, de Wert
This comprehensive tour of the Italian madrigal world includes the composers listed in the title as well as several more, including a Gonzaga Duke! The group are well named as they have a delightfully suave tone and blend which are very easy on the ear, and provide delicate accounts of the madrigals. Just occasionally I felt that we lost some of the detail in the more rapidly interactive episodes, but these are performances which are never less that sensitive and expressive, and in their presentation of both familiar and unfamiliar material they provide a very broad introduction to the development of this distinctive and important musical form. In the highly decorated lines of a Luzzaschi madrigal the detail of the articulation is definitely sacrificed for the overall sense of line, but the ensemble has an uncanny ability to spectacularly ‘warm up’ the tone for appropriate passages while the sound of the full eight-voice texture, as in Gastoldi’s Cantiam lieti, is magnificent.
D. James Ross