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Music by vocal ensembles - Released January 20, 2012 | Sony Classical

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released June 22, 2011 | Solstice

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released September 23, 2010 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Give credit to countertenors Carlos Mena (from Spain) and Damien Guillon (from France): it's very hard to tell here that you're listening to anything other than native English speakers, and even the booklet, with full texts in English, French, and German, is not really necessary to understand the original words. The music by Blow mentioned on the cover consists only of the Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell, used here as a sort of introduction. These are fine performances of Purcell, with a program nicely divided up into songs (mostly excerpts from operas or mixed-genre semi-operas), odes (honorific pieces), and instrumental pieces, many of them excerpts from longer works. This gives a sense of why some of Purcell's melodies are so insanely catchy: within their tuneful frameworks they cross genres. The more ceremonial odes are built up out of successions of dramatic gestures, while the songs often have intricate details that belie their simple overall forms. Mena's rich, rounded tone is a pleasure in itself, and his duet work with Guillon is fresh and cleanly executed. The paired flutes of Belgium's Ricercar Ensemble contribute readings that hold together well with the vocal music. Sample one of the countertenor duets, such as No, resistance is but vain (track 10), to hear the fine duet work and the expert avoidance of the cuteness factor that can ruin a Purcell recording. Over-resonant sound from a French Protestant church, the Temple de Lourmarin, detracts from the overall atmosphere. © TiVo
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Music by vocal ensembles - Released June 21, 2010 | naïve classique

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released December 9, 2008 | K617

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released June 3, 2008 | harmonia mundi

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released January 15, 2008 | harmonia mundi

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released January 15, 2008 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Timbre de platine
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Music by vocal ensembles - Released January 1, 2008 | Glossa

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released November 6, 2007 | harmonia mundi

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released August 15, 2007 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique
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Music by vocal ensembles - Released February 13, 2007 | Tactus

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released January 1, 2007 | Glossa

With the release of Monteverdi's Fifth Book of Madrigals, La Venexiana, the extraordinary ensemble founded and led by countertenor Claudio Cavina, comes close to completing its cycle of Monteverdi's nine volumes for Glossa, with only the first and last books left to record. The Fifth Book, published just before Monteverdi wrote Orfeo, is a pivotal collection that incorporates conventions both of Renaissance madrigals and of the emerging Baroque. La Venexiana's performance is notable for its musical and emotional intensity. The singers' remarkably pure and focused tone is piercing in its clarity, and their expressive directness fully captures the extreme affects of the text. Nothing in the performance is static; every sustained note is purposefully and lovingly contoured, and the phrasing has the rhythmic fluidity that Monteverdi considered essential to effective performance of his vocal music. Even a warhorse like "Cruda Amarilli" sounds fresh and newly imagined. Each of the singers has a voice of solo quality -- beautiful, warm, and shapely -- and their choral blend is ravishing. The second half of the collection has continuo accompaniment, and the somewhat eccentric combination of harp and harpsichord offers a pleasing alternative to the standard keyboard with gamba or cello. Glossa's sound is remarkably intimate and present; being able to hear the singers' intake of breath only adds to the immediacy of the performance. © TiVo
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Music by vocal ensembles - Released October 10, 2006 | Tactus

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released October 3, 2006 | naïve classique

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released April 18, 2006 | naïve classique

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released January 1, 2005 | Glossa

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released January 1, 2005 | Glossa

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Music by vocal ensembles - Released January 1, 2004 | Glossa

La Venexiana's Secondo Libro del Madrigali is the second volume in an edition devoted to the recording of all eight of Claudio Monteverdi's madrigal collections undertaken by the Spanish label Glossa. In promotional materials for the series, Glossa admits that this is a "time when 'complete' recordings seem to be coming less meaningful and attractive for the music lover" but have decided that there is need for such a series, especially as La Venexiana is so well-versed in the madrigals of Monteverdi. For once this is not hype; at present the competition in a book-by-book survey of Monteverdi's madrigals consists of Rinaldo Alessandrini on Opus 111, recorded in the 1990s, and Anthony Rooley with the Consort of Musicke on Virgin, recorded back in the 1980s. Both of these cycles have their virtues and are expertly performed, although Alessandrini's recording is very dry and his sopranos are a tad loud in comparison to the men. Rooley's group contains some very famous singers, including Emma Kirkby and Evelyn Tubb, and the personalities of these very individual voices radiate through the texture. One could count this as a plus or a minus depending on whether the listener likes these vocalists, or prefers a more unified sound in the interpretation of Monteverdi's madrigals. There are no star performers in La Venexiana and the approach to both singing and sound is consistent throughout. Secondo Libro del Madrigali was recorded in the Basilica of San Gaudenzio in Novara and is a little quiet in volume, but the voices blend very well with no sharp edges. The bass in La Venexiana, Daniele Carnovich, is in particular outstanding and deserves singling out, but overall Secondo Libro del Madrigali seems to touch all the right bases in terms of what Monteverdi intends to convey through the music. The second book of 1590 contains early Monteverdi madrigals and includes some individual pieces that remain among the most popular of his short works in this genre. If one is looking for a single disc out of Glossa's Monteverdi Edition in order to sample the whole project, this is a good place to start. © TiVo