"L’ascolto di questo delizioso programma, tutto impregnato di umori e atmosfere monteverdiane – il Divino Claudio fu il grande influencer del suo secolo – non risolverà il mistero del nome dell’ensemble, ma l’enigma non vela in alcun momento la purezza dei suoni e dei timbri, né turba le volteggianti linee melodiche delle musiche sublimi che intrecciano magicamente voci e strumenti di questa cooperativa di mercenari nel loro viaggio attraverso le serene prospettive della musica veneziana della prima metà del XVII secolo. In particolar modo nei divini duetti che mettono a confronto la voce di Violaine le Chenadec ed il cornetto (o cornetto a bocchino), strumento raro, e che raramente eccelle nell’eleganza della linea melodica e nell’estrema precisione d’intonazione di cui dà prova Adrien Mabire." Ferruccio Nuzzo -GreyPanthers
After their recording of Girolamo Frescobaldi’s complete Canzoni, La Guilde des Mercenaires are back with the music that is closest to their hearts - that of Venice and the surrounding area. The record’s origins lie in the idea of a programme including both well-known pieces and others that are almost unknown, although the figurehead is always Monteverdi, a composer who had an enormous influence on his contemporaries.
Rome, together with the Papal States, had long been one of these most important centres. The eternal city wielded the heft of institutions such as the Sistine Chapel, and composers like Frescobaldi, and would go on to consolidate its cultural importance over the course of the seventeenth century. A little further to the north, Florence had been the undisputed centre of gravity of Italianate culture during the Renaissance, especially as a result of the extravagant wealth of the de’ Medici family and, at this time, it was still a vital city whose influence was spreading thanks to figures such as Caccini and Peri, as well as institutions such as the Camerata Fiorentina. Further south, Naples was also developing a music scene which presaged the importance it was to gain a century later, although we have to look to the north for the last great Italian musical hub, and the one to which this recording is devoted. Venice, of course, is the first name to trip off the tongue, with its peerless music-printing industry, a whole host of composers who have gone down in history (Gabrieli, Grandi, Monteverdi, etc.) and Saint Mark’s Basilica. However, when we talk about Venice, we sometimes fail also to mention that there was a fair number of towns and cities in northern Italy which, although they may not have enjoyed the same prominence as Venice, were nevertheless in the musical vanguard of the day, and whose churches and local nobles made no bones about using it as a way of boosting their prestige. We are talking about places such as Mantua (Monteverdi, Viadana), Milan (Cima), Cremona (Merula), Brescia (Marini), etc. So this recording is devoted to the music of those towns and cities which revolved around Venice and, in particular, around Monteverdi, who was the figurehead of this musical school.