BANCHIERI: Musical Entertainments from Late Renaissance Italy
Choir of Swiss Radio Lugano/Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca, Treviso/Diego Fasolis, cond.
Naxos 8.553785 (B) (DDD) TT: 61:56

Renaissance madrigals provided longed-for comic relief from the dour motets and masses of those times. In this century, every member of a college group would have sung the music of such masters of mirth as Josquin, Lassus and Vecchi. Chances are, composer Adriano Banchieri (1568-1634) never appeared on any program. A pity; Bologna-born Banchieri deserves attention for all the fun unleashed in two of his "musical entertainments" as brilliantly performed on this Naxos CD. "Il zabaione musicale" ("untranslatable" according to the program notes), is a series of five-part madrigals encompassing 17 short dramatic scenes covering many popular subjects from the pastoral to the passionate. Of special interest is the fleeting "Jest of the Sparrow" and "Shepherd's Love Contest," an upbeat love song enhanced by wonderful Gesualdo-like chromatics. Banchieri's other entertainment, for "The Eve of Carnival Thursday before Dinner" (1608), includes a rousing drinking song, an animal chorus for owl, dog, cuckoo and cat, and a Jew's harp solo along with a generous sampling of merry madrigals. The superb choir of Swiss Radio Lugano conducted by Diego Fasolis projects each madrigal with appropriate sounds and spirit.

K.S. (Sept. 1999)