Love and Loss = MONTEVERDI: Madrigals [TrackList follows] – Arcangelo/ Jonathan Cohen, dir./ James Gilchrist, tenor – Hyperion CDA69019, 70:03 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:

This is a delightful selection of madrigals from Monteverdi’s last three, and greatest books. Book 6 involves mainly songs of loss, and of parting, Book 7 is one that requires instrumental accompaniment, while Book 8 uses a special sort of tone that Monteverdi created to convey sentiments of physical and psychological war, also some pieces using instrumental music. A time span of 24 years separates Book 6 from Book 8, and his style changed considerably, not so much from stylistic progression as much as from the needs of the texts of the moment. Few composers are as adept as Monteverdi in conveying the inner essence of emotional context and content of a piece of poetry, and few are as willing to stretch their own boundaries in order to accomplish this.

Arcangelo is a spiffy ensemble of six singers of the highest accomplishment, and they demonstrate that in these very difficult and demonstrative pieces, along with a cadre of instrumentalists culled from the finest period players on the British scene. St. Jude-on-the-Hill was the scene of this beautiful performance with reverberant and full-bloomed sound gluing everything down on silver disc. Very fine indeed.


Volgendo il ciel (Ballo ‘Movete’) (Book 8) Thomas Walker (tenor)
Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (Book 8) James Gilchrist (tenor)
Or che’l ciel e la terra (Book 8)
Ohimè, dov’è il mio ben (Book 7) Katherine Watson (soprano) & Anna Dennis (soprano)
Zefiro torna (Book 6)
Ohimè il bel viso (Book 6)
Sestina – Lagrimae d’Amante al sepolero dell’amata (Book 6)

—Steven Ritter