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GRAMOPHONE ( 02/ 2019)
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Reviewer: Fabrice Fitch

Given his renown as a composer of madrigals, it comes as a shock that Cipriano de Rore’s discography is so skewed towards the sacred music. Graindelavoix’s typically idiosyncratic recent survey (Glossa, 2/18) began to redress the balance, and here are two new recordings entirely devoted to them. The selection from La Compagnia del Madrigale is especially significant: it brings together a score of his most famous settings, mostly from his wondrous late period. The sinuous but chordal chromaticism of ‘Sebben il duol’ has a magical ring to it, foreshadowing the later madrigalists while retaining the formal lucidity that characterises his output. For me this is one of the standouts, but the entire collection is perhaps the best introduction to Cipriano now available. At its best it equals anything that has been done in this repertory by the other ensembles in which these hugely experienced singers have sung: the tuning of the stately yet intimate ‘Alma Susanna’ positively rings, and the formal severity of ‘O sonno’ is wonderfully legible. So fine is it that one regrets that the standard falls sometimes just short of such heights: what might have been had the tuning in ‘Sebben il duol’ been just that bit truer, its transitions still more finely staged? If Cipriano leaves his interpreters little
room to hide, he sets them a challenge that the listener can really appreciate, and that appreciation is bound to grow the more one listens. The way they set up and then launch into the second part of ‘Mia benigna fortuna’ (the famous ‘Crudel acerba’) is positively bracing.


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