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Monteverdi: Mass Four Voices; Ninth Book of Madrigals / I Solisti di Milano

Notes & Reviews:

Of his rich and prolific legacy, Claudio Monteverdi, born in Cremona in 1567, is particularly celebrated for his innovations; one of the most influential figures of 16th- and 17th-century music, he extended the expressive possibilities of his craft in an inventive blend of the old and new. This 3-disc set is a superb overview of his long and varied career, touching on each of the genres that he transformed - choral music, the madrigal, secular song and opera. From his years as a court composer to his time as maestro di cappella of San Marco in Venice, Monteverdi's career was defined by his revolutionary approach to musical expression. This 3-disc collection is an engaging exploration of some of his most significant developments, and a fitting tribute to a composer who has been described as the 'creator of modern music'.

American Record Guide, September / October 2012
Ephrikian's musicians, more than Leppard's, were still too tied to the performance traditions of the 20th Century, to the point where the rather tinny harpsichord (it sounds exactly like one of the steel-framed Neupert harpsichords popular in the late 50s and 60s) plays only the continuo realizations printed in Malipiero's editions of Monteverdi from before World War II. Tempos are consistently slower, and even so, the singers (mostly the rather "hooty" sound of early music singers from the same period) still struggle with the intricacies of Monteverdi's florid style. While I can listen to these recordings with fondness, I would recommend more recent performances of the sacred music (such as Herreweghe's recording of the Mass for Four Voices, Nov/Dec 1992, and King's for the Litaniae della Beata Virgine, Sept/Oct 2004); for the madrigals from Book 9, an excellent performance by La Venexiana (Glossa 920921); and for the solo madrigals, the selection by Concerto Soave (Jan/Feb 2006).



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