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Monteverdi Madrigals, Book 8
Composer or Director: Claudio Monteverdi. Madrigals, Book 8 Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi. Taking their cue from the prominent position allocated to his cherished genere concitato in both the preface and contents of the collection, Rinaldo Alessandrini has made an unusual selection of pieces in which this kind of writing, which in practice involves much rapid chordal repetition, triadic formulas and scale passages to imitate the sounds of war, is prominent. It is a brave choice. The rhetorical gestures of the genere concitato are few, simple, obvious and rapidly pall when over-used. Nor are they confined to the madrigali guerrieri alone, since the agitation caused by the pains of love can also call them up. Some of the speeds are surprising, almost extreme.
Monteverdi 's Eighth Book of Madrigals is a monumental tome, containing nearly 40 individual works. The pieces are carefully arranged into particular sequences, suggesting that the book be examined as a whole work rather than an arbitrarily-ordered collection. Many of the pieces in the collection are in "genere rappresentativo" as opposed to the madrigals "senza gesto" without gesture , indicating that the performance of the book would have been at times highly theatrical. The overall ordering of the book follows the pair of adjectives in the title.
M onteverdi's eighth and last book of madrigals, published in Venice in , differed significantly in scale and scope from all its predecessors. The 24 pieces contained in it went far beyond the conventional idea of what a madrigal was or could be and brought together pieces composed over the previous two decades; his seventh collection had appeared in The eighth book was intended as a statement of artistic principles and compositional authority as much as a homogeneous collection - musical language was then evolving rapidly and Monteverdi was keen to claim his priority over some technical devices. The symmetrical division of the series into "war-like" madrigals followed by the madrigals of love, was to a large extent artificial, though each half begins with large-scale settings of Marino and Petrarch and both go on to include a theatrical piece - the Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda in the first part, the Lamento della Ninfa in the second. Both also conclude with a ballet. But it is the emotional scope of the numbers that is so extraordinary.