I’ve finally got round to unwrapping my latest purchase from the simply excellent La Venexiana – the ninth recording of theirs I own – and I’m certainly not bored yet. Once again, performing some of the most exquisite songs of the Italian baroque, this group pulls off a performance which demands listening to over and over – equally enjoyed by listening to every perfectly formed technical intricacy or (and this I’m waiting to test) sitting in the May sunshine with a glass of perfectly chilled Vermentino and the iPod playing in background.
This disc – a recording made up of songs from Claudio Monteverdi’s 1632 Scherzi Musicali – is a showcase for the enchanting voice of Italian soprano Emanuela Galli, who holds together an intensity found in Renée Fleming’s performance of So in love, and a purity and articulation which sits so well with the light but achingly-beautiful writing of Monteverdi.
Perhaps the most successful track on this CD is Ohimè ch‘io cado (Track 2), which contains some of the most evocative baroque techniques, performed with real panache by Galli – each verse gaining another layer of intensity.
But b far the most exciting track is Si dolc’è il tormento which seems to contain everything that perfectly sums up this style – not just of writing and performance, but of authentic interpretation, which Claudio Cavina, Galli, and the group so expertly embodies. You can hear it on Youtube here.
I have most of Venexiana’s recordings of Monteverdi now – I can’t listen to their Gesualdo madrigals if I’m alone in the house or it’s late at night: darker secular material you just won’t find – and each time I hear them I find a new layer of enjoyment and musicality in the listening and the performance alike. They really are a treasure of the contemporary baroque scene and I can’t recommend their performances highly enough. When will they come to London?