Monteverdi: Madrigals, Book 4

Monteverdi: Quatro Libro dei Madrigali (1603)
Concerto Italiano - Rinaldo Alessandrini
Opus 111 30-81


  1. Ah dolente partita
  2. Cor mio, mentre vi miro
  3. Cor mio, non mori? e mori!
  4. Sfogava con le stelle
  5. Volgea l'anima mia soavemente
  6. Anima mia perdona
    Che se tu se'il cor mio
  7. Luci serene e chiare
  8. La piaga c'ho nel core
  9. Voi pur da me partite, anima dura
  10. A un giro sol de' begl'occhi lucenti
  11. Ohimè, se tanto amate
  12. Io mi son giovinetta
  13. Quel augellin che canta
  14. Non più guerra pietate
  15. Si ch'io vorrei morire
  16. Anima dolorosa che vivendo
  17. Anima del cor mio
  18. Longe da te cor mio
  19. Paign' e sospira

Performers: Rossana Bertini, Cristina Miatello (sopranos), Bianca Simone (mezzo-soprano), Claudio Cavina (alto), Giuseppe Maletto, Sandro Naglia (tenors), Marcello Vargetto (bass)

Playing time: 62'

Recording date: May 1993

Monteverdi's Fourth Book of 5-part madrigals marks the climax of his song-writing in the prima prattica style derived from the secular polyphony of the 16th century (and earlier). As such, it is a publication of tremendous historical significance, summarizing as it does the views of one of western music's great musical geniuses toward the music which proceeded him. This is also some of his finest writing.

With the Fifth Book, Monteverdi moves on to the seconda prattica and the new definition of what was to become Baroque music. As opposed to some other cases, where such divisions might seem gratuitious, in Monteverdi's case the change was derived explicitly and self-consciously from his own aesthetic philosophy. The fact that this sort of thinking led to tremendous success surely makes it one of the great intellectual feats in western art.

Hence, in the Fourth Book, Monteverdi is indeed summarizing music as he sees it, preparing to embark on a new innovatory path. This is seen particularly through the wide variety of expressive and contrapuntal techniques used in the book, giving each madrigal an individual character. It is clearly a key publication (reissued seven times), and an easy choice for this overview.

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Todd M. McComb