It was an excellent idea to record these seminal pieces by this most enigmatic of Renaissance composers, a man whose importance is widely acknowledged but whose output remains as little known as his life, even if an entire book of madrigals might be thought a trifle indigestible.
I was slightly bothered by the top-heavy sound of Fuggi, fuggi, performed by four a cappella voices, but the problem disappears in Amor se d’hor and the fine renditions of Madonna il tuo bel viso and Se lieta e grata morte. This is related to questions of performing pitch, of course; while this low scoring gives a glowingly lugubrious sound to the group, balance becomes more difficult to achieve. As for the madrigals performed by solo singers with lute accompaniment, Catherine King shines particularly in such languishing settings as Se mai provasti donna (though the poem is of course placed in the mouth of a man), and does a sterling job of injecting variety into the many stanzas of Donna leggiadr’ et bella. There is also some splendid singing from Charles Daniels in the plangent Con lagrime et sospir (also sublimely played by Jacob Heringman in de Crema’s solo lute version of 1546) and Igno soave. The disc is underpinned by the resourceful, tasteful and colourful lute playing of Jacob Heringman. If it is not something to be listened to in its entirety at one sitting, it is certainly not the fault of the performers – perhaps this listener’s ear is simply disinclined to listen to seventy minutes of meditations on love and the suffering that love brings, be they early madrigals or rock music! [four stars]
Ivan Moody, Goldberg, Winter 2001