Aldeburgh Festival: Concerto Italiano

CONTINUING the Italian theme which provides the thread for much of this year's Festival, the distinguished ensemble Concerto Italiano gave the first of two concerts devoted to the music of Monteverdi.

Concerto Italiano, Snape Maltings, Saturday June 16

CONTINUING the Italian theme which provides the thread for much of this year's Festival, the distinguished ensemble Concerto Italiano gave the first of two concerts devoted to the music of Monteverdi.

With seven solo voices, a continuo of two theorbo and directed from the harpsichord by their founder Rinaldo Alessandrini, they performed his sixth book of Madrigals of 1614. Two madrigals dominate, and largely dictate the mood of the sixth book; the first being the Lament of Arianna, an opera Monteverdi composed a year after Orfeo, but whose music is lost, other than this lament, which he arranged later as a madrigals for five voices. It is complex, powerfully dramatic music, the recitativo style mirroring the text with infinite subtlety and conveyed brilliantly in a finely nuanced performance by Concerto Italiano.

Our friend Rinaldo Alessandrini drew the most poignant sounds from his singers, both in this and the second major work, also a lament; Lagrime d'amate Al Sepolcro Delamata - Tears of the mother at the tomb of his beloved.

Exquisite music, and though in both these works, and for most of the sixth book, the mood is less than cheerful, Monteverdi includes works in a somewhat lighter vein: Bittersweet in his setting of Petrarch's Zefiro Torna, joyful in Qui Rise, O Trisi. Here was an opportunity to savour how radiant the singing of the superbly blended group can sound.

By Frank Cliff