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D'India - Madrigals / Révidat, V. Lucas, Wieczorek, Dugardin, Lescroart, Les Arts Florissants, Christie
Sigismondo d'India, William Christie, Stephanie Revidat
D'India - Madrigals / Révidat, V. Lucas, Wieczorek, Dugardin, Lescroart, Les Arts Florissants, Christie
Genres: Pop, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (22) - Disc #1

The Sicilian nobleman Sigismondo d'India was roughly contemporary with Monteverdi (both began their careers around 1600); the musical ferment of that period led, in d'India's case, to a very heady brew. His madrigals--du...  more »

      
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The Sicilian nobleman Sigismondo d'India was roughly contemporary with Monteverdi (both began their careers around 1600); the musical ferment of that period led, in d'India's case, to a very heady brew. His madrigals--duets, solos and five-voice works--are like inebriated Monteverdi: d'India set the Italian poetic texts (usually dealing with a lover's pain) with even less regard for academic counterpoint and even more surprising twists of harmony than did his more-famous colleague, yet the music never veers into the disorienting, seemingly willful weirdness of Gesualdo. William Christie and Les Arts Florissants have made occasional forays into the music of 17th-century Italy before, but their real turf is the French Baroque--and on this disc, it shows. The fast passagework is blurred; the vibrato (from the sopranos in particular), while not wide by modern operatic standards, is sufficient to smudge d'India's searing dissonances. Some of the solo singing is interesting and the ensemble and tuning are perfectly good, but this listener doesn't sense much passion. Oddly, several of the madrigals are played by an ensemble of viols. Performance by instruments rather than singers is historically plausible, but why use the famously sober viol family for such ardent music from the period when the violin family was just coming into its own? Les Arts Florissants certainly don't dishonor themselves here, but their work is far from the exalted standard they set in, say, Charpentier. If you want to know how dramatic d'India's music can be, let the Italian singers of Daltrocanto show you. --Matthew Westphal
 

CD Reviews

Start Here! Christie is Second to None
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 09/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Listening to any other performance of the eccentric madrigals of Sigismondo d'India (1582-1628) - even the recordings by Ensemble La Venexiana - one might be tempted to ask the old question; "What's all the hubbub, bub?" After all, d'India was regarded as bizarre to the extreme by his contemporaries, a composer more interested in outdoing others, Michelangelo Rossi in particular but even the great Monteverdi, than in fulfilling his own great musical promise. His greatest esteem was earned as a performing singer rather than as a composer, and after a reasonably stable residency at the court of Savoy for twelve years, he spent the rest of his life singing here and there in Roma and North Italy. Many of his madrigals, especially the polyphonic ones, seem in the performances of most ensembles to be squarely in the technical language of Monteverdi and even of earlier composers such as Marenzio.

Whatever doubts you may have about d'India's stature as a radical innovator will disappear by the third or fourth track of this performance by Les Arts Florissants. Every note of these 23 madrigals and semi-operatic duets becomes floridly passionate under the baton of William Christie. D'India's drama is achieved by contrasts, by truly unforeseen progressions and voice leadings, by enormous and sudden pauses and changes of dynamic. I don't think Christie is inventing these effects; I think he has just perceived their obvious presence in the music, perhaps for the first time since d'India himself sang to the gentry of Modena and Ferrara. Christie has the core of singers and instrumentalists that can actualize his interpretive insights: eight superb singers mostly pirated from France, spot-perfect continuo built around his own harpsichord, and for this recording one of the most polished viol da gamba ensembles, Les Violes Orlando Gibbon, to fill out the soundscape.

The madrigals here are Christie's selection from all eight of d'India's published books of madrigals and all five of his publications of 'Musiche a Una e Due Voci,' essentially seconda prattica monodies. Such a selection has much to recommend it in the case of d'India, whose eccentricities can become repetitive under less insightful direction.

This is the Sigismondo d'India recording to have. Sell or give away any others; once you hear this one, you won't need them any more."