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Hyperion Records

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Flora (1559, detail) by Jan Massys (1509-1575)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA68019
Recording details: March 2013
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt & Robert Cammidge
Release date: February 2014
Total duration: 5 minutes 14 seconds

'The latest disc from Jonathan Cohen’s virtuoso ensemble Arcangelo is a musical love story, complete with lovers’ quarrel, tearful partings and tragic endings. Bringing together the Sestinas from Books 6-8 of Monteverdi’s madrigals, the programme explores the gamut of the composer’s mature style, evolving from the crystallised 'prima prattica' perfection of Book 6 to the 'genere concitato' (agitated style) of Book 8. All of Cohen’s singers come from the world of opera, and it shows in performances that place the drama of 'le parole' to the fore. The astonishing harmonic flexibility and melodic narrative of Monteverdi’s writing translates here into urgent drama … among so much vocal athleticism, it’s still the instrumentalists of the ensemble that dominate, setting the disc apart from the excellent I Fagiolini recordings that come closest vocally to this kind of abandon. Sitting midway between the nervous energy of Alessandrini’s Concerto Italiano and the more measured intensity of Jordi Savall for the Book 8 works, Arcangelo’s musicians deploy rough-edged expressive risk-taking within a framework of complete stylistic control' (Gramophone) » More

'These are not easy pieces, but the opening ballet swings along with panache, and there is some excellent tenor solo singing in the first section … the two sopranos in the duet Ohimè, dov'è il mio ben show poise and taste' (BBC Music Magazine) » More

'This is a wonderful disc, presenting Monteverdi the dramatist and the creator of vivid aural pictures. Presented in such vivid recorded sound and by such accomplished musicians, intuitively directed by the excellent Jonathan Cohen, it provides an invaluable and hugely attractive addition to the composer’s already generous representation on disc' (International Record Review) » More

Ohimè, dov'è il mio ben, dov'è il mio core?, SV140
Madrigals, Book 7
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
A heartfelt sense of loss is conveyed in the poem Ohimè, dov’è il mio ben, dov’è il mio core? by Bernardo Tasso, father of the more famous Torquato. Tasso was a diplomat, and this is one of the stanze di lontananza written when he was parted from his wife by the call of duty. Monteverdi set this stanza, an eight-line text (ottava rima), as four variations for two voices over the so-called Romanesca bass, one of several such basses used in the sixteenth century for improvising musical settings of ottave. Each variation sets a pair of lines.

Ohimè, dov’è il mio ben was published in Monteverdi’s Seventh Book, which contains many other solos, duets and trios, smaller textures made possible by the inclusion of an independent instrumental accompaniment improvised from a single bass line.

from notes by John Whenham © 2014

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