"For the non-specialist," observed Early Music World, "detailed consideration of Marenzio's large body of madrigals remains a vain quest in the light of the lack of comprehensive accessibility to either printed or recorded music." This release from Spain's Glossa label helps rectify the situation with precise yet stylistically sensitive performances of a key set of Luca Marenzio madrigals from the vocal group La Venexiana.
Considering that he was the first of the great Italian madrigalists, Philippe Verdelot's music is still much less well-known than it deserves. The simple expressiveness and sensitive but restrained text-setting of these earliest examples of the form are a world away from the highly charged emotion and dramatic word-painting of more familiar later madrigals, but their unaffected charm should be as appealing to modern listeners as it was to those of Verdelot's contemporaries, who revered him as the best composer since Josquin des Prez. The attractiveness of this disc is further increased by the wise decision to use a variety of scoring rather than treating all the madrigals as four-part vocal pieces. A few judiciously chosen ones are performed in this way, but more than half are most effectively presented as lute-song, stylishly sung by Catherine King and Charles Daniels with beautifully shaped phrasing and admirably clear words. Others are played in contemporary versions for solo lute.
The Ferrarese Luzzasco Luzzaschi, a pupil of Cipriano de Rore and teacher in turn of Girolamo Frescobaldi, much admired and praised by the self-same Gesualdo da Venosa, has passed into history as the principal musical inspiration for the Concerto delle Dame, that vocal trio with instrumental accompaniment (for which Glossa has very recently produced a new recording).