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A release that compliments La Storia di Orfeo is Stravaganza d’Amore!, charting the musico-dramatic works of the Medici court that preceded Monteverdi’s Orfeo. The fabulously wealthy Medici family, Dukes of Florence, threw limitless resources as a succession of court entertainments, with composers providing intermedi, music inserted between acts of plays, which became so popular that they took on a life of their own. They gradually took the ascendant, and by the end of the 16th century the transition from choral music (polyphony) to monody (solo) was well under way. If this all sounds rather worthy and dusty don’t fear, as conductor Raphaël Pichon has created an original and entertaining compilation of musical fragments. It consists of four intermedi, one based on our old friend Orfeo, and joyous stuff it is too, going with a swing from the first note. A small chorus and a group of soloists take turns in the spotlight and there’s a suitably festive air to proceedings. Recorded in the Chapelle Royale at Versailles, one possible drawback is the reverberant sound. But on the whole it is fun, and the luxurious presentation book is hugely informative.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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