Gruppo vocali Àrsi & Tèsi, Tony Corradini
Tactus TC 590005
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The madrigal collection ‘The pastimes of the Villa in each season’ published in Venice in 1601 consists of settings by eminent composers of the day, some better remembered than others – Giovanni Croce, Lelio Bertani, Ippolito Baccusi and Filippo de Monte – of verses by the aristocrat Francesco Bozza. Each composer takes a complete season, treated in five parts and interestingly each referred to in the dedication as a single song. The parallels with the almost exactly contemporary ‘Triumphs of Oriana’ are interesting and point at an urge towards the encyclopaedic at the time. The balance of the music on the CD is made up with sundry other madrigals which mention the seasons by the familiar Nanino, Marenzio, de Lasso and Schütz, and the rather more obscure and interesting Rinaldo del Mel and Mogens Pederson. The quality of the madrigals in the collection as well as the added material is high, and they are beautifully sung by the vocal ensemble. This could well have been just an aristocratic vanity project, but the fact that the composers clearly liaised, not to say competed, with one another ensured a consistently high compositional standard. The structure of the publication and its title makes it very clear that it was viewed as a single large four-part work, and was intended to be performed in its entirety, as it is here. The astute choice of complementary material makes this CD thoroughly engaging and entertaining, while the expressive and technically flawless performances ensure that the attention never wanders.
D. James Ross