The French Baroque air has not been much recorded, even in comparison with the earlier strophic air de cour. But the veteran ensemble Les Arts Florissants, under American-French director William Christie, having brought exposure to a good deal of previously unknown French music, is not slowing down in this regard, and this delightful collection of "serious and drinking airs" might well stimulate other performers to explore the repertory.
This box set assembles the complete Monteverdi recordings that William Christie and Les Arts Florissants made for harmonia mundi over some fifteen years. Together, they constantly refreshed their inspiration at the wellspring of his finest and most famous madrigals, with a memorable incursion into the sacred repertory of the Selva morale.
Recorded at the Cité de la Musique during the complete cycle of Monteverdi madrigals mounted in partnership with the Philharmonie de Paris and the Théâtre de Caen, the last volume in our trilogy probably contains the best-loved gems of a composer who had become maestro di cappella at St Mark’s in Venice, and finally entered the priesthood. Alongside the great operas that have survived from this period, the final madrigals methodically explore the multiple possibilities offered by the rapidly developing practice of basso continuo and by an unprecedented exploitation of solo voices. And, in that respect, the celebrated 'Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda' forms a spectacular finale to our Monteverdian adventure!
Rossi's Oratorio per la Settimana Santa is a masterpiece of the period. Its unusual representation of the Crucifixion draws on elements of both the Passion and the Stabat mater traditions. It also includes an almost operatic scene that vividly depicts a descent into Hades. Its moralistic intent was to move the listener through compassion to repentance. This striking recording from William Christie and the ensemble Les Arts Florissants was originally released in 1989.