Columbus may have sailed the ocean blue in 1492, but a century later an important musical voyage of discovery had a reached a pivotal moment. The publication of Monteverdi’s Third Book of Madrigals in 1592 heralded the decisive embrace of a “modern” approach to setting secular texts. These texts, mainly by Guarini and Tasso, deal primarily with interior feelings. To ensure that his music served this intense poetry, Monteverdi moved to a less contrapuntal style that incorporated greater elements of recitative. In short, he had learnt that less could be more. Furthermore, spicy, sometimes outrageous dissonance was often exploited to express poetic affections.

Having a long and impressive association with Monteverdi’s music, Rinaldo Alessandrini and his Concerto Italiano are the ideal interpreters...

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