Michelangelo’s Madrigal

Kate Macoboy soprano, Robert Meunier lute
Et’cetera KTC 1623
Music by Cara, dall’Aquila, Dalza, da Milano, Pesenti, Scannazaro, Scotto & Tromboncino

This interesting collection of secular Italian songs of the first half of the 16th century is built around the work of Bartolomeo Tromboncino, and more specifically the madrigal Come harò donque ardire, setting a poem by the legendary artist Michelangelo Buonarroti – the ‘Michelangelo’s Madrigal’ of the title. In addition to several other of Tromboncino’s settings, we have music by Joan Ambrosio Dalza, Marco dall’Aquila, Michele Pesenti, Francesco da Milano, Marchetto Cara and Paulo Scotto. Robert Meunier proves an able accompanist and an accomplished soloist in the works for lute alone, while Kate Macaboy has a pleasant well-focused soprano voice. In keeping with the performance notes, both performers treat the written scores as springboards for their own musical imaginations, decorating both the melody and the accompaniment as the composers surely intended. Macaboy introduces an appropriate level of dramatization into her performances, and this along with the accumulation of ornamentation prevents the often rather simple melodies outliving their welcome. It is hard to reconcile this rather naïve compositional style with the fact that Tromboncino and Michelangelo collaborated while employed together at the Ferrara court of the notorious Lucrezia Borgia. Perhaps an aptitude for on-the-spot elaboration of melodies would have helped cultivate the quick reactions necessary for survival at a Renaissance Italian court!

D. James Ross

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