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"D'amore e tormenti"

Raquel Andueza, sopranoa; Jesús Fernández Baena, theorbo

rec: Oct 3 - 5, 2007, Azkoitia, Convent de la Santa Cruz
nbmusika - NB014 (© 2007) (78'03")

Maurizio CAZZATI (1620-1677): Mi serpe nel pettoa; Benedetto FERRARI (1603/04-1681): Son ruinato, appasionatoa [2]; Voglio di vita uscira [2]; Johannes Hieronymus KAPSBERGER (?-1651): Toccata VII; Stefano LANDI (1590-c1639): Augellina; Tarquinio MERULA (c1594-1665): Folle č ben che si credea [3]; Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643): Si dolce č il tormentoa [1]; Alessandro PICCININI (1566-c1638): Chiaccona; Barbara STROZZI (1619-1664): Che si puň farea [6]; L'Amante segretoa [4]; L'Eraclito amorosoa [4]; Rissolvetevi pensieria[5]

(Source: [1] Carlo Milanuzzi (ed), Quarto scherzo delle ariose vaghezze, 1624; [2] Benedetto Ferrari, Musiche varie, libro secondo, 1637; [3] Tarquinio Merula, Curtio precipitato et altri capricii, libro secondo, op. 13, 1638; [4] Barbara Strozzi, Cantate, ariette e duetti, op. 2, 1651; [5] Ariette a voce sola, op.6, 1657; [6] Arie a voce sola, op. 8, 1664)

The title of this disc sums up what was dominant in the lyrics of most madrigals and arias of the 17th century. The ambiguity of love and torment is reflected in the compositions which Raquel Andueza and Jesús Fernández Baena have chosen. The protagonists experience the torment of love and the sweetness of torment. The composers who are represented on this disc were geniuses in expressing that ambiguity in their works.

Although the music on this disc bears the traces of the monodic style as introduced by Giulio Caccini, the predominance of the text he advocated has gone. The music is given a little more independence from the text, and this is reflected in the form of the aria.

The programme contains a mixture of well-known and lesser-known composers. Among the latter is Stefano Landi, who was born and died in Rome, and was a singer himself. He is mainly known as a composer of an opera and an oratorio which both have been recorded. He also composed some collections of arias for solo voice and bc.

Benedetto Ferrari was born in Reggio nell'Emilia, and died in Modena. Around 1640 he was active in Venice as a writer of opera librettos and an impresario. He played an important role in the establishment of public opera performances in the city. He also composed a number of operas, and three collections of Musiche for voice and bc have been preserved.

The least-known name on the programme is Maurizio Cazzati. He was from the same region as Ferrari, and died in Mantua. In the 1660s he was working as maestro di cappella at the San Petronio basilica in Bologna, but was consistently criticised. Although he was supported by the authorities, he was finally dismissed in 1671 and moved to Mantua. The largest part of his oeuvre consists of sacred music and instrumental works. But he also wrote some collections with arias, cantatas and canzonettas, some of them for solo voice and bc.

Claudio Monteverdi's whole oeuvre is available on disc, of course, and Barbara Strozzi and Tarquinio Merula are also well represented in the catalogue. But the inclusion of some of their compositions in the programme is useful to give an impression of the exciting musical developments during the second quarter of the 17th century in Italy.

Raquel Andueza approaches this repertoire from a somewhat different angle than interpreters in other recordings. Her performance is less theatrical and dramatic. That is a matter of choice, but probably also a consequence of her voice being not that big, with a limited dynamic range. But she delivers a very refined and subtle interpretation of the text. Don't think that her performances are bland and that she misses the affetti the composers are expressing in their music.

The emotions of these pieces are expressed through the colouring of the voice, an excellent diction and a good sense for the contrasts in the various pieces in the programme. The more recitative-like passages, in particular in the cantatas by Barbara Strozzi, come off just as well as those episodes which show the emergence of the aria as a musical form. Maurizio Cazzati's Mi serpe nel petto is a good example.

Monteverdi's Si dolce č il tormento is one of his most famous pieces, and it is given a beautiful performance here, although the tempo is probably a bit too slow. That Raquel Andueza is not without theatrical skills is shown in the aria Son ruinato, appassionato by Benedetto Ferrari, another piece which shows the ambiguity of love and torment. It is quite difficult to decide whether this piece is serious or rather a kind of parody.

Jesús Fernández Baena also illustrates the two aspects of the music of this time. Alessandro Piccinini's Chiaccona is a kind of 'strophic' piece, whereas Kapsberger's Toccata VII is a piece in free rhythm, very much like a recitative-like monody as was dominant in the early decades of the 17th century. He also gives excellent support to Raquel Andueza, thus contributing to the expression of the vocal pieces.

Johan van Veen (© 2010)

Relevant links:

Raquel Andueza
Jesús Fernández Baena

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