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Two Monteverdi Releases 'Orfeo' and 'The Third Book Of Madrigals'

Out this month on Naïve.

Two Monteverdi Releases 'Orfeo' and 'The Third Book Of Madrigals'

This month, Naïve Classiques will release two recordings of music by Claudio Monteverdi: Orfeo sung and conducted by Emiliano Gonzalez Toro and his GRAMMY nominated ensemble, I Gemelli (October 2) and Il terzo libro de' madrigali by Rinaldo Alessandrini and his Concerto Italiano (October 30).

Produced in 1607 at the ducal palace in Mantua, Monteverdi's Orfeo is considered the first true opera in history - a masterpiece unique in its art of musical conception and representation that continues to inspire the greatest musicians. This production, staged in Paris and Toulouse at the end of 2019, is unusual in being directed "by the voice" by the solo tenor, who sings the title role while also conducting all the singers and instrumentalists.

Emiliano Gonzalez Toro and the other ten soloists in the cast pay careful attention to the vocal lines, which are richly ornamented and highly contrasted in their dynamics and moods: a constant tension is maintained between the narrative and the way the characters intervene in it. Out of this fragmentation, an integral component of Striggio's poem and the template for the proportions and balance of Monteverdi's "fable in music," the artists assembled here conjure a sense of movement and creativity, with the pastoral scenes enhancing the introspective moments, such as "Rosa de ciel" from Act I, the famous lament "Tu se' morta" (Act II), and the arrival of Orpheus in hell in Act III ("Scorto da te"). The continuo section enriches both the vocal sound and the instrumental texture, which is dominated by viols, as well as featuring a chitarrone from the year 1600 (borrowed from the collection of the Musée de la Musique in Paris).

"Vocal music represents the vast majority of compositions written in the Renaissance," writes Toro. "Instruments were still subordinate to the voice, and sought either to double or to imitate it. In the model of polyphony still prevalent at the beginning of the seventeenth century, it is the tenor that 'holds' the ensemble together, the etymological meaning of the word (from Latin tenere). The poet Orpheus sings to his own accompaniment on the lyre. Monteverdi translates this image by replacing the lyre with the entire orchestra. It is the singer's task to provide the impetus that will accompany the inflections of the text. In mythology, Orpheus guides the Argonauts' ship, giving the oarsmen their rhythm with his song. It is he who reduces the Sirens to silence, he who sets the course. It is the singer who is the conductor, and the orchestra is his great ship." L'Orfeo - Claudio Monteverdi (1678 - 1741)
Favola in musica rappresentata in mantova l'anno 1607

Emiliano Gonzalez Toro - TENOR, CONDUCTOR - Orfeo
Emőke Baráth - SOPRANO - Euridice, Musica
Natalie Pérez - MEZZO-SOPRANO - Messaggiera
Alix Le Saux - MEZZO-SOPRANO - Speranza, Pastore III
Jérôme Varnier - BASS - Caronte, Spirito
Mathilde Etienne - SOPRANO - Proserpina
Nicolas Brooymans - BASS - Plutone, Pastore IV
Fulvio Bettini - BARITONE - Apollo, Spirito, Eco
Zachary Wilder - TENOR - Pastore I, Spirito
Juan Sancho - TENOR - Pastore II, Spirito
Alicia Amo - SOPRANO - Ninfa

A preview of highlights from Monteverdi Orfeo can be found HERE. Il terzo libro de' madrigali
"There are few performers better-versed in the music of Claudio Monteverdi than Rinaldo Alessandrini and the ensemble he founded 30 years ago, Concerto Italiano," says The Guardian. Alessandrini has dedicated a major part of his work and recordings over the past thirty years to the Monteverdi Madrigals, works that above all, Alessandrini believes, are texts to which music is the servant. This form of a cappella vocal polyphony was born in the flowering of Renaissance humanism and developed in the 17th century by composers such as Monteverdi, Marenzio and Gesualdo, before being supplanted by the opera. As the Italian maestro explains, in the Third Book of Madrigals we can already see how carefully the 25 year-old Monteverdi chooses poetry, like that of Guarini, Celano and Tasso, which is capable of "responding to the needs of the drama, of truth, humanity and emotionality, culminating at the end of his life in the lustrous triumph of his final works."

"Three years separate this recording from that of 'Notte' [Night, Stories of Lovers and Warriors] and fifteen years from that of the sixth book of madrigals," writes Rinaldo Alessandrini, "but in the course of those years Monteverdi's music has never ceased to resonate in my thoughts and to accompany me, like and old companion, invisible but ever-present in heart and mind, in the opera house and during the concerts of Concerto Italiano. This recording, however, seems to me to be particularly significant. Thirty years after my first encounter with Monteverdi's music, the gratitude for all that his music has been able to teach me grows every single day. And, after the fashion of a keystone, his motivations, his work, his conclusions, have gradually seemed to me to belong also to all the music that came after him." Il terzo libro de' madrigali a cinque voci - Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
Venezia, Appresso Ricciardo Amadino, 1592
Concerto Italiano
Francesca Cassinari, Monica Piccinini, Sonia Tedla SOPRANOS - Maria Chiara Gallo MEZZO-SOPRANO
Elena Carzaniga, Andres Montilla ALTOS - Raffaele Giordani TENOR - Gabriele Lombardi, Salvo Vitale BASSES
Rinaldo Alessandrini CONDUCTOR
1 La giovinetta pianta (Anonymous)
2 O come è gran martíre (Giovanni Battista Guarini)
3 Sovra tenere erbette e bianchi fiori (Anonymous)
4 O dolce anima mia, dunque è pur vero (Giovanni Battista Guarini)
5 Stracciami pure il core (Giovanni Battista Guarini)
6 O rossignuol che in queste verdi fronde (Pietro Bembo)
7 Se per estremo ardore (Giovanni Battista Guarini)

Vattene pure, crudel (Torquato Tasso, La Gerusalemme Liberata, XVI, 59, 60, 63)
8 Vattene pure, crudel, con quella pace [prima parte]
9 Là tra il sangue e le morti egro giacente [seconda parte]
10 Poi ch'ella in sé tornò, deserto e muto [terza parte]
11 O primavera, gioventù dell'anno (Giovanni Battista Guarini, pastor fido, III, 1)
12 perfidissimo volto (Giovanni Battista Guarini)
13 ch'io non t'ami, cor mio? (Giovanni Battista Guarini)
14 occhi, un tempo mia vita (Giovanni Battista Guarini)

Vivrò fra i miei tormenti (Torquato Tasso, La Gerusalemme Liberata, xii, 77, 78, 79)
15 Vivrò fra i miei tormenti e le mie cure [prima parte]
16 Ma dove, oh lasso me! [seconda parte]
17 Io pur verrò là dove sete [terza parte]
18 Lumi, miei cari lumi (Giovanni Battista Guarini)

Rimanti in pace (Livio Celano)
19 Rimanti in pace [prima parte]
20 Ond'ei, di morte la sua faccia impressa [seconda parte]

A first listen of Monteverdi Madrigali III can be found HERE. About Emiliano Gonzalez Toro
The beauty of his timbre, his technical virtuosity and his ability to bring texts to life make the tenor Emiliano Gonzalez Toro one of the most sought-after singers on the current musical scene. While his sovereign mastery of the Baroque repertory is widely acknowledged, he is also in great demand in later music, from Mozart to nineteenth-century French opera. Emiliano Gonzalez Toro has performed all the great masterpieces of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the leading ensembles and the most eminent conductors, including Gabriel Garrido, Michel Corboz, John Eliot Gardiner, William Christie, Emmanuelle Haim, Jordi Savall, Ivor Bolton, Christophe Rousset, Ottavio Dantone, René Jacobs, Raphaël Pichon and Hervé Niquet. He has appeared at the Paris Opéra, in Zurich, Tokyo, Washington, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lausanne and Strasbourg, at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, the BBC Proms, the Munich Staatsoper, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, the Victoria Hall in Geneva, the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon and the Auditorio Nacional de Madrid, among others. His discography amounts to more than forty albums, including L'incoronazione di Poppea with Le Concert d'Astrée, Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine with both Pygmalion and L'Arpeggiata, Lully's Phaëton and Landi's La morte d'Orfeo with Les Talens Lyriques, and most recently Soleil noir and Cozzolani's Vespro (naive).

About I Gemelli
In 2018 Emiliano Gonzalez Toro and Mathilde Etienne founded together I Gemelli, a group specializing in seventeenth-century vocal music. The ensemble's vocation is to champion the major works of this period as well as lesser-known or even unpublished scores. The repertory it has tackled includes Cozzolani's Vespro, the works of the legendary tenor and composer Francesco Rasi, and the supreme masterpiece of the Seicento, Monteverdi's L'Orfeo. I Gemelli is characterized by a specific model of musical direction: the impulse is given by the melody, the cast of singers, with the continuo and the orchestra being considered as an extension of the vocal lines. Unlike the principle of a direction coming from the opera pit, the ensemble follows the inflections of a conductor-singer in an approach that is at once melodic and declamatory, closely espousing the rhetoric of the text. I Gemelli plays on period instruments in historically informed performance style and collaborates closely with scholars and musicologists in the elaboration of each program. The guest artists come from the new generation of singers and musicians or are already major established talents on the international scene. In 2019 its recording of Cozzolani's Vespro was released on Naïve to unanimous acclaim from the critics, and won a 'Choc' de Classica and a Diapason d'Or. I Gemelli is supported by Mrs. Aline Foriel-Destezet.

About Rinaldo Alessandrini
The harpsichordist, organist and pianist Rinaldo Alessandrini is one of the leading figures on the international early music scene. His predilection for the Italian repertory and his constant preoccupation with the expressive characteristics specific to the Italian style of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries orient his musical approach and interpretative options, both at the head of Concerto Italiano, of which he is the founder and director, and as a soloist and guest conductor.

Among the most notable productions he has conducted are Handel's Theodora, Alessandro Scarlatti's La Vergine dei dolori, Monteverdi's Vespers, Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, and many works by Vivaldi, including La Senna festeggiante, The Four Seasons, the operas L'Olimpiade and Armida, and the monumental reconstruction of his Solemn Vespers for the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin. Also worthy of mention is his marked penchant for the operas of Monteverdi, Mozart and Handel, which he conducts frequently and with great passion.

A regular guest conductor with leading orchestras in Europe and the United States, but also in Melbourne and São Paulo, he also appears frequently at La Scala in Milan, the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, La Monnaie in Brussels, the Opéra de Liège and Welsh National Opera. In the course of the Monteverdi jubilee year of 2017, he led Concerto Italiano on tour in Australia, China and Japan, and in concerts in Europe and the US. Rinaldo Alessandrini was resident conductor with the RIAS Kammerchor Berlin in the 2015/16 season. In 2016 he was appointed music director of the 'Purtimiro' Baroque opera festival at the Teatro Rossini in Lugo di Romagna.

His discography, which has earned frequent awards over the past thirty years, largely coincides with that of Concerto Italiano, and features numerous Italian composers but also members of the German school. He records exclusively for naïve. In 2002, along with Concerto Italiano, he received the Premio Abbiati. He was appointed Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2003, and is a member of the Accademia Filarmonica Romana.

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