Amor, Fortuna et Morte

Madrigals by de Rore, Luzzaschi, Gesualdo & Monteverdi
Profeti della Quinta
Pan Classics PC 10396

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This collection of madrigals has been compiled for the excellent reason that the singers of the Profeti della Quinta love singing them. Interestingly the composers they choose span the 16th and the first half of the 17th centuries – Cipriano de Rore was born in 1515/6 and died in 1565, while Monteverdi was born in 1567 and died in 1643. While there is considerable variety here, various musical and thematic threads run all the way through the programme. The five male voices, joined in the later works by lute, achieve a remarkable blend and purity of intonation, and sing these madrigals with intense expression and musical intelligence. In addition to some very familiar material, we have an extraordinary madrigal by Scipione Lacorcia, who manages to outdo his model Gesualdo in harmonic eccentricity and melodic waywardness! The recording of Monteverdi’s “Lamento della Ninfa” (13) is a hair-raising aberration, as one of the group’s male altos hideously droops and swoops around Monteverdi’s melodic line in a style verging on caricature. Famously, Monteverdi asks the soloist to sing ‘at the beat of the emotions’ – however, this clearly means singing with a degree of mensural freedom rather than approximating the actual notes in a sort of anachronistic Sprechgesang. Just awful, but mercifully unique on the CD. Interspersed among the madrigals, we also have a number of pieces for solo lute, some of them very effective arrangements of madrigals. Founded in Galilee by the eminent singer/harpsichordist/director/composer Elam Rotem, Profeti della Quinta is now based in Basel.

D. James Ross


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