Dominico Mazzocchi: Prima le Parole

Madrigali a Cinque Voci, Roma 1638
Les Traversees Baroques, directed by Etienne Meyer
ACC 24384

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Over-petalled garlands of lyric poetry by Tasso, Ciampoli and others are responded to in the most extraordinary ways by Domenico Mazzocchi. This Roman composer is less known than his older contemporary, Monteverdi, whose influence can be heard, extended by later developments and by Mazzochi’s own fecund imagination. We need not hear the words to know that here we are descending a staircase of sleep or despair, there on a mountain top, open to breezes or distant echoing valleys. Particularly vivid are the tumbling mountain streams, swathes of swaying flowers and rumbles of bad weather – and all symbolic of course of the one universal topic. These effects are wonderfully enhanced by the imaginative choices of instrumentation in the continuo mix and concerted instrumental parts. A remarkably flowing and lyrical cornett sound, along with truly breath-inspired recorder playing, judicious use of dulcian and a varying spectrum of continuo sounds provides appropriate background canvasses for the vivid vocal parts. These vary from dramatic dialogues to rich quintets, sung with not a little ebullience. Another illuminating recording from this creative ensemble.

Stephen Cassidy

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