The Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) is unquestionably the most important figure in music history from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. A native of Cremona, Italy, his life and works are firmly associated with Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and his vast oeuvre encompassed all of the chief musical genres of his time. It was in his madrigals that he was able to combine ingeniously the art of the High Renaissance masters with the new aesthetic of Baroque music, thereby creating a highly personal, innovative musical language.
In all, he wrote nine books of madrigals. The first four are dated to the years 1587–1603, and Monteverdi conceived them rather traditionally. The breakthrough came with his Book Five (1605), in which the composer takes a completely new approach to the text, the content of which is colorfully depicted using musical means. In Book Six (1614) we find a musical setting of Petrarch’s text Zefiro torna (The West Wind Returns) and especially the madrigal version of the famed Lamento d’Arianna (Ariadne’s Lament), which may be the most famous of all of Monteverdi’s madrigals. He based it on the aria with the same name from his opera L’Arianna (1608), which became so popular in its day that the composer decided six years later to recast it into a cycle of four madrigals. The best known of them is Lasciatemi morire (Let Me Die), which will be on the programme of the concert appearance by the ensemble La Compagnia del Madrigale. They will also be presenting other famous numbers from the first six books of madrigals by Monteverdi.
The ensemble is among the top in its field, and it will offer an evening full of captivating music, which still speaks to listeners across generations even after more than four centuries.
Since its founding in 2008, the Italian ensemble La Compagnia del Madrigale has earned a place among the leading performers of madrigals. A critic for Gramophone Magazine was unsparing with praise: “They are a superb ensemble with the wonderful Rossana Bertini as first soprano and with the tenor Giussepe Maletto. Their sound is beautifully focused, with just enough expression to make the best of the music without exaggerating anything.” Their repertoire includes works by important madrigal composers, with Claudio Monteverde, Carlo Gesualdo, and John Taverner at the forefront. As part of its concert activities, the ensemble makes regular appearances at leading early music festivals (MiTo, Unione Musicale Torino) and at important concert halls – this season they will be performing at London’s famed Wigmore Hall. Their recordings have repeatedly won the prestigious Diapason d’Or, and in 2014, an album also earned the title of Gramophone Magazine’s Album of the Year.
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