Monteverdi and Reflections
Recorded 27-30 September 2016 at St Matthew’s Church, Bethnal Green, London
Reviewed by: David Truslove
Reviewed: January 2018
CD No: FIERI RECORDS
Duration: 75 minutes
The eight-voice Fieri Consort’s first recording is impressive, produced by John Rutter. Fieri (from the Latin fio, “to become”) was formed in 2012 – drawn originally from Genesis Sixteen – and is finely blended, musically intelligent and technically secure, and here continues its exploration of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italian repertoire but, with an eye to an already-crowded market of Madrigals by Monteverdi and Marenzio, cannily introduces music by Ben Rowarth (born in 1992).
Tears of a Lover is a collection of dark, intense music, including Marenzio’s Si quel dolor (1595) and Monteverdi’s Lamento d’Arianna, compiled twenty years later. Adding considerable spice is the inspired idea to interleave the Monteverdi with Rowarth’s further reflection on suffering – cutting-edge polyphony juxtaposed with music from today. It’s a bold move and brilliantly achieved; word-painting, daring harmonies and expressive dissonances common to Monteverdi are superbly re-imagined in Rowarth’s The Turn. His false relations in ‘O sguardo’ may be outrageous but they work and underline both the harmonic experimentation of Monteverdi and the rage of unrequited love. Elsewhere Rowarth conjures hypnotic, sensuous music to which the Fieri Consort responds with relish.
Marenzio’s half-hour Se quel dolor is a profound meditation on death taken from the poet Luigi Tansillo. Fieri cherishes this music and makes one hear its tortuous chromaticisms in a fresh light. With an overall sombre mood it is a relief to hear a variety of pace achieved, and also a ravishing solemnity. Monteverdi’s ‘Interrotte speranze’ (from Book Seven of his Madrigals) showcases a superb partnership between tenors Josh Cooter and Tom Kelly, abetted by Alison Kinder (bass viol) and Aileen Henry (Renaissance harp) who also provide support in Marc’ Antonio Ingegneri’s ‘Io non hebbi giamai pace né tregua’ (1580) – given characteristically beautifully phrased singing, total command of language and style, and interpretations as fine as you’ll hear anywhere. The booklet includes texts and translations.