D. James Ross
Early Music Review
June 2015

This charming account of the Gardano publication of 1592 of madrigals composed by all the big Italian composers of the day, dedicated to Leonardo Sanuda and written in honour of his wife, Elisabetta Giustinian. Like a precursor of the Triumphs of Oriana, one has the sense that the composers are vying with one another, a dynamic which always brings out the best in musicians. At any rate it is fascinating to hear the greatest musicians of the day rub shoulders with men who are now largely obscure, but who in the charmed world of the madrigal seem very much their equals. The King’s Singers are on top form, singing with a sunny freshness appropriate to this happy music, blending beautifully, and moving as one into crescendos and decrescendos, ranging in dynamic from a whispering pianissimo to declamatory episodes of high drama. In choosing a ‘domestic’ acoustic, they are undoubtedly reflecting the ambience for which this music was intended—I would have preferred a tiny bit of distance to allow the sound to bloom a little more. However there is no doubt that Elisabetta would have been as delighted with this recording as we hope she was with her exquisite gift of a stunning printed collection of madrigals by some of the finest composers of the genre.

Early Music Review