TARQUINIO MERULA: Su la cetra amorosa – Arie e Capricci a Voce Sola; Montserrat Figueras, soprano; Jean-Pierre Canihac, cornet; Ton Koopman, clavecin; Andrew Lawrence-King, harp; others – Alia Vox

by | Nov 24, 2008 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

TARQUINIO MERULA: Su la cetra amorosa – Arie e Capricci a Voce Sola; Montserrat Figueras – soprano; Jean-Pierre Canihac – cornet; Ton Koopman – clavecin; Andrew Lawrence-King – harp; Rolf Lislevand – vihuela, theorbe & guitare baroque; Lorenz Duftschmid – violone; Jordi Savall – viole de gambe & dir. – Alia Vox multichannel SACD AVSA9862, 55:42 ***** [Distr. by Harmonia mundi]:

Tarquinio Merula (1595-1665) was born in Busseto and probably educated at Cremona Cathedral. He held posts at Lodi, Warsaw, Cremona and Bergamo though his appointments were not without their difficulties. He pioneered the use of several forms later to become the backbone of baroque music including that of the sinfonia and cantata. He was one of the leading composers of modern music of his time.

The words used for these songs are delightful; most are love-oriented and the passion is colourfully and imaginatively described. . Hor ch’è tempo di dormire (Now it is time to sleep) is a lullaby sung by a mother to her child, Mary to Jesus, the mood becoming darker as she ends warning the child of the difficulties to come. Quando gli ucelli portaranno i Zoccoli (When Birds Wear Clogs) is a charming song with quirky words, telling how it is really impossible the singer will forget her love, and cease mourning. In Un bambin che va alla scola (Alas, a childish schoolboy) the boy sings of his woes as he has become ensnared in love “like a little sparrow”, and the tune, as with others on this disc, is based on popular folksong.

It almost goes without saying that Montserrat Figueras sings these songs magnificently. Her pure voice colours the words effortlessly and seamlessly. There are also two instrumental solos, a toccata for harp played by Andrew Lawrence-King and a capriccio for harpsichord played by Ton Koopman, and these add variety to the mix, both superbly played.

Originally recorded in Valkkoog Church, Holland, in July 1992 for the Astrée label, the recording has been extremely well remastered for the multi-channel SACD reissue by Manuel Mohino and the sound quality is all one can wish for. Presentation is up to Alia Vox’s usual standard, with deluxe booklet in colour, excellent essay and full texts. It’s a joy to welcome back these superb recordings in Alia Vox’s Heritage series.

1. Su la cetra amorosa (Aria di Ciaccona)
2. Folle è ben che si crede
3. Chi vuol ch’io m’inamori (Canzonetta spirituale)
4. Toccata del 2º tono (harpe)
5. Hor ch’è tempo di dormire (Canzonetta Spirituale sopra alla nanna)
6. Un bambin che va alla scola
7. Capriccio (clavecin)
8. Quando gli ucelli portaranno i Zoccoli
9. Menti lingua bugiarda
10. Sentirete una canzonetta

— Peter Joelson

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