Lush Medici Music
Scott Schwartz | 06/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've always been a Gabrieli fan and, as a result, thought Venice was the only place that big, rich, sonorous, multi-choir music was being produced. Boy was I ever wrong! This Florentine music, part of the Medici wedding ceremony of 1589, is huge and beautiful. It is the musical germ of what led to Grand Opera, though less well-known than it should be. It was composed by the super-stars of the day, Luca Marenzio, Cristofano Malvezzi, and others. There are several recordings that came out since the 60's and this is the newest. The older versions are all out of print or very expensive. This version is more compact, and this would be my only criticism. There is a tendency nowadays to do early music at a rapid tempo in a lilting way. That's great for the fast movements and dance tunes, but I rather prefer heavy polychoral harmonies to float more gently and even ponderously, as in the 7-choir penultimate piece here. The Van Nevel version is more appealing in this regard. That said, I feel this is a wonderful entry into big Renaissance music. Maestro Sempe has given an elaborate introductory interview on the second disc which opens the music to a wider audience. The solo singing is very fresh and improvisatory, and the ensemble work is well-coordinated. Above all, this is music worth hearing. It stirs the soul, it is that wonderful combination of simple yet strong by its contrasting harmonies and multiple instrumental combinations. It's affordable and well-done. Highly recommended!"
Great performance of great music. but not quite as good as P
Daniel Ponder | 05/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this recording a year ago after hearing the Andrew Parrott recording of the same music and realizing that would cost 80-120$. This recording by Skip Sempe is expertly executed and well played. Unfortunately is does not use the same gargantuan forces heard in Parrott's recording, but it captures the excitement and and awe of this early opera/musical spectacle. What I do really like about this recording is the bonus compact with interviews in 3 languages by Skip Sempe discussing the music, performance practice. and history behind this "Stravaganze de Medici." Great CD of wonderful music, but I would recommend looking up the recording by Parrott at a library or University music library."