Si chiude con queste crude storie che raccontano il mal di vivere della nostra epoca la trilogia della riluttanza iniziata con La fabbrica della cura mentale e proseguita con Il manicomio chimico.
One of the composer's most beguiling scores, La Favorite is Donizetti's La favorita in its original French form - a tale of love and war that represents a glorious mix of Italian bel canto and 19th century grand opera.
This is an excellent and varied selection of composers from the very well known like Palestrina, Monteverdi, Bach and Vivaldi, through the less famous but familiar like Frescobaldi, Sainte-Colombe and Zelenka, to the downright obscure. It is all delightful: the musicians are uniformly excellent, and include such great names as Gustav Leonhardt, Cantus Colln, Christopher Hogwood and so on. They give fine performances both of the familiar works and of the less familiar ones. Obviously there will be discs you like more than others and you may already have favourite versions of some works, but these discs are never less than very good and are often outstanding.
To sense the emotional charge coursing through Carlo Gesualdo at the time when he was composing his Sixth Book of Madrigals, there is no better starting point than a thrilling new recording being issued on Glossa from La Compagnia del Madrigale. Some of the finest singers in the madrigal repertoire today – including Giuseppe Maletto, Daniele Carnovich and Rossana Bertini, and they have been refining their a cappella artistry over more than twenty years with groups such as La Venexiana and Concerto Italiano – now restore humanness, warmth, pictorial beauty and richness to one of the most complex cycles in all music. This marks the group’s triumphant entry onto a label which has always made the exploration of the Italian madrigal repertory one of its cornerstones.
Charles Burney described Johann Adolf Hasse, his contemporary, as ‘the most natural, elegant and judicious composer of vocal music, as well as the most voluminous now alive…’ His output includes 63 operas, but only two are currently recorded, yet inexplicably this is the second Piramo, albeit markedly livelier and with the bonus of its two ballet suites. Schneider’s perceptive booklet note comments that too readily we find such composers immature – ‘almost like Mozart’, rather than excitingly expressive and individual. Here even the subtitle Intermezzo tragico is novel, implying a fusion of two traditions, comic and serious. The music is equally unconventional. Recitatives slip seamlessly into and out of arias, creating a strong sense of dramatic continuity. Colours are imaginative: flutes and bassoons paint a beautiful description of Piramo’s Utopia; natural horns roar rudely as the lion approaches – though he proves a rather likeable beast in his subsequent sinfonia. The performance is excellent. Monoyios, a gentle Tisbe, floats effortlessly in melting vocalises; Schlick’s Piramo contrasts, yet matches in their love duets; while Jochens, the domineering father, confirms in his remarkably jolly suicide aria that the final tragico stage, littered with the corpses of all three characters, is not to be taken too seriously.-George Pratt