Gramophone Award-winning ensemble Arcangelo (in their first recording as a vocal and instrumental group) presents a selection from Monteverdi’s last three books of madrigals. These ardent and passionate works are microcosms of Monteverdi’s great operas, and among his most celebrated music.
Most of the madrigals of Book 6 (1614) are songs of parting and loss. Book 7 (1619) is entitled Concerto, meaning that all the works it contains require instrumental accompaniment. And Book 8 (1638) introduces the genere concitato—the ‘agitated’ manner that Monteverdi devised to convey the emotions of war, whether physical or psychological. Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda sets an extended passage from Tasso’s epic poem Gerusalemme liberata. Tasso’s text, set in the time of the first crusade, tells of the combat between the Christian knight Tancredi and the Saracen maiden Clorinda. Most of the action of the Combattimento is conveyed by a narrator (Testo—the text), sung here by celebrated tenor James Gilchrist.
These are not easy pieces, but the opening ballet swings along with panache, and there is some excellent tenor solo singing in the first section. BBC ****
All of Cohen's singers come from the world of opera, and it shows in performances that place the drama of le parole to the fore...But among so much vocal athleticism, it's still the instrumentalists that dominate...Arcangelo's musicians deploy rough-edged expressive risk-taking within a framework of complete stylistic control. Gramophone
The first impression given by the opening track on this disc is of enormous energy and breadth. There is some superb singing from the assured and polished tenor Thomas Walker, while even more impressive is the remarkably full-bodied sound and glorious instrumental textures from the dozen players. Int. Record Review