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Most likely commissioned as a wedding or anniversary giftfor the wife of prominent Venetian nobleman Leonardo Sanudo, Il Trionfo di Dori consists of a collection of 29 six-part madrigals published in 1592. Each features a different poet and composer, all conclude with the refrain ‘Viva la bella Dori’, Dori being the daughter of the sea king Oceanus and here a metaphor for Sanudo’s wife, Elisabetta. If the format sounds familiar, it probably is, having been borrowed by Thomas Morley for his Triumphs of Oriana (1601), the rather better known tribute (at least in the English speaking world) to another Elizabeth.

The texts without exception occupy an untroubled pastoral world. Such poetry require little more than musical settings that reflect their largely languorous charm. All 29 composers respond accordingly, and it is a tribute to the special skills of such as Marenzio, Vecchi, Giovanni Croce, Anerio and Palestrina that their contributions somehow manage to stand out.

Otherwise it is difficult to avoid a feeling of sameness creeping in, an impression not averted by the performances of the King’s Singers, which, though near-immaculately pitched, fail to avoid a certain blandness that perhaps misses opportunities to seek out a greater degree of rhetoric and colour. Notwithstanding such reservations, the disc can be recommended to those who enjoy undemanding madrigal repertoire.

Brian Robins Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing