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Venezia Stravagantissima


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Audio CD, July 20, 2004
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Product Details

  • Performer: Guillemette Laurens
  • Orchestra: Capriccio Stravagante
  • Conductor: Skip Sempe
  • Composer: Antonio Incerto, Giorgio Mainerio, Gioseffo Guami, Orazio Vecchi, Giovanni Picchi, et al.
  • Audio CD (July 20, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Alpha Productions
  • ASIN: B0002JELEA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,585,112 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Guillemette Laurens, mezzo-soprano; Damien Colcomb, organ; Françoise Johannel, harpe; Mike Fentross, vihuela; Francis Lassus, percussion

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Maddy Evil on July 23, 2005
Judged solely on the strength of the performances, this recording by Capriccio Stravagante can generally be recommended without hesitation (see below for detailed track listing). The personnel line-up comprises many well-known exponents of early music (from groups such as Hesperion XXI, the Harp Consort, the Huelgas Ensemble and Le Poeme Harmonique) and the programme is an attractive compilation of late 16th and early 17th century Italian music. Incidentally, both in ensemble and programme, this recording is reminiscent of (and perhaps inspired by?) David Munrow's with the Early Music Consort of London entitled Two Renaissance Dance Bands; Monteverdi's Contemporaries (Testament SBT1080). Under Sempe's direction, the individual players of Capriccio Stravagante frequently exhibit incredible virtuosity - Doron Sherwin's cornett diminutions are particularly spectacular.

There are, however, two important reservations with this recording. Firstly, at just over 50 minutes in length, the duration is not exactly generous: in fact, given that the last track actually includes over 7 minutes of material from previous tracks (5, 7 and 1 respectively), the real length of the CD is barely 45 minutes, which seems somewhat penurious. Secondly, questions arise from the musicology presented in defence of the approach adopted here. In the liner notes (p.41), Sempe viciously attacks metric performances of Early Music, arguing that the 'allure' of much pre-Baroque repertoire resides in its close association with the doctrine of rhetoric and the imitation of speech.
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This is a mostly wonderful CD that evokes the spirit of Venice at the height of its glory (or maybe a little past). It does include many of the same tunes as are played in a more stately fashion on Munrow's Monteverde's Contemporaries. The virtuosity of the ensemble, most notably the cornettist, and the freedom of the expression and ornamentation make this well worth owning and listening to frequently. For example, I could see a funeral possession making its way through the narrow streets of Venice while the funeral pavan is played. My one complaint is that on one of the tracks, "Pass'e mezzo della Paganina e saltarello" it sounds like there was a phone ringing somewhere near where the recording was being made (1:17 1:25 1:31 1:38 1:45) - bizarre. I also enjoyed reading Sempe's take on early music, including the performance of Monteverde's operas. Too bad his recording of a pair of Monteverde's operettas is out of print...
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