The album of the day: "Fight of Tancredi and Florinda"

The album of the day: “Fight of Tancredi and Florinda”

Claudio Monteverdi
Fight of Tancredi and Clorinda (Cd Archiv 415296-2)

If there was a minimum of justice in the world, the name of Claudio Monteverdi should be at least as famous today as that of Mozart and Beethoven, and the traditional concert audience (which normally does not go further than Bach in ratings) would fill the halls to capacity to listen to his works and music. However, to this day the Divine Claudio (as his contemporaries nicknamed him) continues to remain in the narrow spheres of ancient music, considered a niche for an audience of limited connoisseurs.

Monteverdi is a miracle, it is impossible to describe the beauty of his music, you absolutely must listen to it; if you don’t feel like tackling one of his theatrical works straight away, start with this splendid album curated by one of the best European ensembles, Musica Antiqua Köln; the musical director Reinhard Goebel has been one of the reference figures for this music for decades, very accurate philologically but also endowed with an impetuous theatrical strength that is indispensable in Monteverdi (it is no coincidence that he is one of the inventors of opera).

The “Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda” is a dramatic madrigal for baritone, countertenor and soprano with verses by Torquato Tasso, composed in 1624. The sad story of the two lovers who face each other in battle without one knowing the real identity of the other provoked in the listeners of the time emotion to the point of tears, and even today the same is repeated when the performance manages to convey the thousand nuances of Monteverdi’s writing. Clorinda (Muslim) is dressed as a man, Tancredi (crusader) does not recognize her and eliminates her in the fight, only discovering later that he has mortally wounded his beloved, who however forgives him before taking her last breath.

Every dramatic nuance is masterfully rendered by voices and instruments, also including instrumental techniques that were new and daring for the time (tremolos and pizzicati for the strings). As the author himself stated, music is the “handmaiden of the word” and follows every turn with lines of great plasticity that require notable voices and authentic stage talent. Nigel Rogers, Patrizia Kwella and David Thomas respond perfectly to these requirements and manage, under Goebel’s careful guidance, to restore the great beauty of the score to us intact.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.