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Now for three Monteverdi releases. On Scherzi Musicali a tre voci 1607 six female singers of L’Esa Ensemble throw themselves with ecstatically Italophone authenticity, failing to blend, and their intonation is the stuffof nightmares. A shame because, in spite of a brittle recording, the delightfully jaunty playing of a variety of instruments by the Baschenis Ensemble is perfectly stylish and pleasing. A double CD of Monteverdi Madrigali Libri V & VI offers more refined repertoire in thoughtful, well-constructed performances by Le Nuove Musiche from the Netherlands, managing fair but inconsistent Italian, delicacy of feeling and lovely clarity of recorded sound. Finally, to add to the pre-existing shelfload, here’s another Vespro della Beata Vergine [Ramée RAM 1702]. Ludas Modalis proffer a version without concertato instruments which they contend is not only a ‘first’ but also a format the composer himself proposed. The result offers much spiritual probity, with excellent, virtuoso singing supported only by continuo instruments. Liturgical points are awarded for the antiphons in this less calorific, even introspective – but fulfilling in more devotional ways – recording: a fascinating alternative for those who prefer the balance between liturgy and opera to favour the former.

REBECCA TAVENER Read the full review on Agora Classica

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