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Giulio San Pietro de’ Negri seems to have spent the first quarter of the 17th century travelling fairly far and wide, to judge from the title-page dedications to far-flung Italian patricians and noblemen fronting his volumes. These volumes include two books entitled Grazie ed Affetti (comprising monodic writing as well as strophic multi-part items) and one (incomplete) Canti Accademici as well as collections of canzonette. Beyond that, we don’t know a great deal about him, and this disc is the fruit of Marco Horvat’s enthusiastic labours in Negri’s cause. What’s here is well worth discovering.

It’s hard not to think of Monteverdi while listening; Negri was evidently steeped in a musical sphere of which history has leftus Monteverdi as the primary protagonist, and the few works by Negri’s contemporaries are similarly reminiscent. The fast ciaccona ‘O Amante, se non sai’ (Ghizzolo), for instance, is eerily similar to ‘Ecco pur ch’a voi ritorno’ from L’Orfeo. That said, it also calls to mind Giovani Stefani’s alfabeto song ‘Bella mia, questo mio core’, so perhaps this is retrospective generalisaton.

Either way, if you like Monteverdi, try this. The music is refreshing and delightful and the performances universally first-rate; to single out Magali Imbert’s recorder playing seems to do a disservice to the plural and excellent chordophonists.

Catherine Groom Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2015 - ©Rhinegold Publishing