Rinaldo Alessandrini, Part 1

Program: #21-28   Air Date: Jul 05, 2021

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The great Italian early music conductor and performer visits us as we hear some composers at the cusp of the Baroque: Luca Marenzio, Alessandro Striggio, and Don Carlo Gesualdo.

NOTE: All of the music on this program features the Concerto Italiano conducted by our guest, Rinaldo Alessandrini.

I. Marenzio: Madrigali (Opus 111 CD OP 30245).

Cover art for Madrigali (Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini) by Luca Marenzio
From Allmusic.com:  Italian Renaissance composer Luca Marenzio was internationally recognized as the leading composer of madrigals at the height of his career, in the last two decades of the 16th century. He was so popular (and the sales of his music so lucrative) that within years of his death, both Flemish and German publishers had issued volumes of his complete five- and six-part madrigals, an honor almost unheard of at the time. Marenzio's madrigals, while anticipating the songlike lyricism of monody that would come to dominate vocal music of the early Baroque, made full use of the textural and expressive qualities of Renaissance polyphony. His music was not quite as adventurous as Gesualdo's, but it still pushed at the harmonic conventions of the time in order to draw out the emotion of the texts with the maximum expressivity. Palestrina, the paragon of polyphonic correctness, is known to have despised Marenzio for placing expressive content above the rules of proper counterpoint.Marenzio wrote over 400 madrigals, and this collection includes a sampling of 28, written during the composer's most fruitful period, between 1580 and his death in 1599. Five- and six-part madrigals are represented, some a cappella and some accompanied, and there are several instrumental arrangements of the works made by composers of Marenzio's generation. Using texts by a variety of poets, they are remarkable for the emotional depth and inventiveness of the text setting, the sure handling of harmonies that are sometimes vertiginously chromatic, and their expressive range. The majority are melancholy meditations on lost love, but Marenzio finds infinite ways to express anguished intensity. Rinaldo Alessandrini leads six singers and a small instrumental ensemble of Concerto Italiano in impassioned performances. The singers have distinctive, lovely voices, and each sings with warmth and transparent expressiveness, but at the same time, their blend is gorgeously rich and smooth, an ideal combination for these madrigals. Opus 111's sound is immaculate and wonderfully present. The CD should be of strong interest to fans of Renaissance vocal music and superlative ensemble singing.
1   Basciami Mille Volte A 5 Voci
2 ¬† Satiati, Amor, Ch'a Pi√Ļ Doglioso Amante A 6 Voci
3   Dolorosi Martir, Fieri Tormenti A 5 Voci
4   Nè Fero Sdegno Mai, Donna, Mi Mosse [Prima Parte]
5   Talchè Dovunque Vò, Tutte Repente [Seconda Parte] A 6 Voci
6   Liquide Perle Amor Da Gl'occhi Sparse A 5 Voci
7   Liquide Perle Amor Da Gl'occhi Sparse Diminuito Per Liuto

Arranged By ‚ÄstGiovanni Antonio Terzi
8   Vaghi E Lieti Fanciulli A 6 Voci
9   Deh Rinforzate Il Vostro Largo Pianto A 6 Voci
10   Donne Il Celeste Lume A 9 Voci
11   Udite Lagrimosi Spiriti D'Averno, Udite A 5 Voci
12   Là Dove Sono I Pargoletti Amori A 6 Voci
13   E S'io Mi Doglio A 6 Voci
14   Fuggi Speme Mia, Fuggi A 6 Voci
15   Tirsi Morir Volea [Prima Parte]
16   Frenò Tirsi Il Desio [Seconda Parte]
17   Così Moriro I Fortunati Amanti [Terza Parte] A 5 Voci
18   Tirsi Morir Volea Diminuiti Per Cembalo

Arranged By ‚ÄstPeter Philips
19   Consumando Mi Vò Di Piaggia In Piaggia A 5 Voci
20   O Verdi Selv'o Dolci Fonti E Rivi
21   Caro Aminta Pur Voi [Prima Parte]
22 ¬† Non Pu√≤ Filli Pi√Ļ [Seconda Parte] A Due Voci In Dialogo, A 6 Voci
23   Cruda Amarilli [Prima Parte]
24   Ma Grideran Per Me Le Piagge [Seconda Parte] A 5 Voci
25   Per Duo Coralli Ardenti A 6 Voci
26   Così Nel Mio Parlar Vogl'esser Aspro [Prima Parte]
27   Et Ella Ancide, E Non Val C'huom Si Chiuda [Seconda Parte] A 5 Voci

II. Commedie Harmoniche  (Opus 111 CD OPS 30-137).

Commedie Harmoniche (Madrigalkomödien)
From BBC Music: This talented Italian vocal ensemble, under the direction of Rinaldo Alessandrini, has already proved its excellence in previous discs of Monteverdi madrigals. In this engaging new release the artists turn their attention to ‚Äėmadrigal comedies‚Äô by 16th-century Alessandro Striggio and his younger contemporary, Adriano Banchieri. These are highly entertaining, often witty pieces, with a strong onomatopoeic element and a profusion of vividly depictive images running through them. Comedy and pathos alternate with effective rapidity. Horn calls, yapping dogs and a beautiful evocation of the setting sun feature prominently in Striggio‚Äôs The Hunt, while Banchieri‚Äôs F√™te for the Evening of Carnival Thursday, before Supper contains among its highlights a passage of hilarious counterpoint improvised by an owl, a cuckoo, a cat and a dog over a cantus firmus.

What a marvellous model this kind of writing provided for the young French composer Charpentier who, returning from Italy, incorporated similar passages in his comédie ballet collaborations with Molière. No less waggish is Striggio’s Chattering of Washerwomen, a masterpiece of bitchy gossip. I wish my local launderette were half as lively. An outstanding performance from start to finish.

  1. La Caccia: Dalle Gelate Braccia Di Titone (Prima Parte A Puattro)
  2. La Caccia: Su, Su, Presto Alla Caccia (Seconda Parte A Cinque)
  3. La Caccia: Ecco Ch' Al Bosco Siam Vicini Omai (Terza Parte A Sei Voci)
  4. La Caccia: Mirate A Quei Cinghiali (Quarta Parte A Sei Voci)
  5. La Caccia: Ecco Il Sol Chiaro Dianzi Che S'Asconde (Quinta Parte A Sette Voci)
  6. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Prologo
  7. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Il Diletto Moderno Per Introduzzione
  8. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Justiniana Di Vecchietti Chiozzotti
  9. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Mascherata Di Villanelle
  10. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Seguita La Detta Mascherata
  11. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Madrigale A Un Dolce Usignolo
  12. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Mascherati D'Amanti
  13. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Gli Amanti Morescano
  14. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Gli Amanti Cantano Una Canzonetta
  15. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Gli Amanti Cantano Una Canzonetta
  16. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: La Zia Bernardina Racconta Una Novella
  17. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Capricciata A Tre Voci
  18. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Contrappunto Bestiale Alla Mente
  19. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: I Cervellini Cantano Un Madrigale
  20. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Intermedio Di Venditori Di Fusi
  21. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Li Fusari Cantano Un Madrigale
  22. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Gioco Del Conte
  23. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Li Festinanti
  24. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Vinata Di Brindesi E Ragioni
  25. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Sproposito Di Goffi (Pero Di Gusto)
  26. Festino Nella Sera Del Giovedi Grasso Avanti Cena: Il Diletto Moderno Licenza E Di Nuovo Invita
  27. Il Cicalamento Dell Donne Al Bucato: Nella Vaga Stagion Che Premer Suole (Prime Parte...)
  28. Il Cicalamento Dell Donne Al Bucato: Buon Giorno, Belle Donne! (Seconda Parte A Sette Voci)
  29. Il Cicalamento Dell Donne Al Bucato: Ho Udito Che La Fante (Terza Parte A Sette Voci)
  30. Il Cicalamento Dell Donne Al Bucato: Non Ti Ricordi Quando, Oggi Fa L'Anno (Quarte Parte...)
  31. Il Cicalamento Dell Donne Al Bucato: Orsu Stendiamo Questi Panni (Quinta Parte A Sette Voci)

III. Gesualdo: O Dolorosa gioia (Opus 111 CD OPS 30-238). 

Gesualdo, Concerto Italiano, Rinaldo Alessandrini ‚Äď O Dolorosa Gioia (2000,  CD) - Discogs
From¬†Gramophone: The first impression from this CD is that Rinaldo Alessandrini‚Äôs Gesualdo lacks the burnished warmth of his Monteverdi. The acoustic is less resonant, and the exactitude of the singers‚Äô tuning makes it cold, at times almost claustrophobic; in other words the tone has been judged just about perfectly. We begin with perhaps the most famous madrigal of them all,¬†Moro, lasso, al mio duolo, and the tendency to downplay the dramatic potential of those famous chromatic audacities sets the tone from the start. Indeed, some may find the understatement as surprising as I did. However, these interpretations have real staying power, a narrative persuasiveness that unfolds with repeated listening (while making clear the fragmentation at the heart of the music). To my mind, Concerto Italiano‚Äôs approach does Gesualdo more favours than the histrionics that his music can so readily invite. The same is true of Alessandrini‚Äôs insert-notes (co-written with Iain Fenlon), which start from the premise that Gesualdo was a real artist, not a musical shock-tactician, nor a composer-cum-psychopath, nor yet a one-trick pony. It is true that similar strategies recur from work to work: for example the sensuous settings of words addressed to the beloved ‚Äď ‚Äėdolcissimo cor mio‚Äô, ‚ÄėDolce del cor tesoro‚Äô, both rendered as sensually as possible ‚Äď and the contrasts with harsher sentiments that immediately follow. It would be absurd to claim for Gesualdo a range to which he probably never aspired. As it is, I defy anyone to guess how the penultimate syllable of the phrase ‚Äėpotessi dirti pria ch‚Äôio mora‚Äô (in¬†Merce grido piangendo) resolves. That a major chord can be so jarring sums up Gesualdo‚Äôs art very neatly, and here as elsewhere the singers find unsuspected poignancy in a pause or a breath. I said before that these performances grow on one: as I write, I‚Äôm still listening, and they still do.
The programme begins and ends with madrigals from composers whom Gesualdo admired. The contextualisation of the composer in no way detracts from his achievement. However, these performances are not quite so convincing: they are weighed down by the continuo (harp and theorbo), which is absent from the performances of Gesualdo, and I cannot get used to the timbre of the soprano Alessandrini uses for these pieces ‚Äď white and rather strained. But his Gesualdo really is indispensable.'
1   Di Mie Dogliose Note

Composed By ‚ÄstFilippo De Monte*
2   Occhi Miei Che Vedeste

Composed By ‚ÄstPomponio Nenna
3   Se Lontana Voi Siete

Composed By ‚ÄstGiovan Domenico Montella
4   Moro Lasso Al Mio Duolo
5   Se La Mia Morte Brami
6   Belt√† Poich√® T'Assenti
7   Canzone Del Principe
8   Gioite Voi Col Canto
9   Se Non Miro Non Moro
10   Se Vi Duol Il Mio Duolo
11   Asciugate I Begli Occhi
12   Merc√® Grido Piangendo
13   Languisce Al Fin
14   Tu M'Uccidi O Crudele
15   Ahi Cruda Sorte Mia

Composed By ‚ÄstLuzzasco Luzzaschi
16   Lungi Da Te Cor Mio

Composed By ‚ÄstLuzzasco Luzzaschi
17   Itene Mie Querele

Composed By ‚ÄstLuzzasco Luzzaschi

Composer Info

Luca Marenzio (1553-1599), Alessandro Striggio, Adriano Banchieri, Don Carlo Gesualdo, Filippo De Monte (1521-1603), Pomponio Nenna (1556-1608) , Giovan Domenico Montella, Luzzasco Luzzaschi (1545-1607)

CD Info

Opus 111 CD OP 30245, Opus 111 CD OPS 30-137, Opus 111 CD OPS 30-238