Meraviglia d’amore : Love Songs from 17th-century Italy

Marco Beasley, Private Musicke, Pierre Pitzl
Accent ACC24330
Music by Bartolotti, Carbonchi, Calvi, Corbetta, Foscarini, Frescobaldi, Galilei, d’India, Kapsberger, Biagio Marini & Pellergini

This delightful CD presents a series of instrumental pieces by the likes of Cario Calvi, Antonio Carbonchi and a whole plethora of largely unfamiliar composers interspersed with songs by the more familiar Kapsberger, d’India and Marini. The original slant comes from the fact that Private Musicke can call upon two Baroque guitars, theorbo, cello and gamba, producing a wonderfully rich and lively sound in the instrumental pieces and a full and imaginative accompaniment to Marco Beasley’s singing. Clearly letting their instruments lead them, the instrumentalists play with a winning mercurial quality, strumming and thrumming their way through the repertoire, with inspired cross-rhythms and exploratory introductory sections which set this music in a very believable context. My one reservation is about the recorded quality, which is very close, and in the case of the singer a little edgy, giving his voice a brittleness which a more generous recorded acoustic would have alleviated. One advantage of the close recording, however, is the placing of the various instruments, which allows very clear give and take back and forth between the various players. These are passionate and musically imaginative interpretations of this repertoire, which in the likes of the masterly O del ciel d’Amor  by Sigismondo D’India reach remarkable heights of expression and drama. It is easy to hear in these performances the theatricality of music which was being composed just as the medium of opera was taking shape.

D. James Ross