Splendours of the Gonzaga. Sacred Music from Wert to Monteverdi
Biscantores / Luca Colombo
This second disc from the relatively new ensemble Biscantores, has had a long gestation: recorded in September 2020 as Europe slowly emerged from covid lockdowns it took nearly three years to be released, but it has been worth the wait. As specialists in late Renaissance and Baroque music Biscantores present an interesting and varied programme from the Mantuan court of the Gonzagas spanning the foundation of the Basilica Palatina di Santa Barbara and its cappella in 1565 to the sack of Mantua in 1630.
The programme opens with Monteverdi's delightful earworm, Confitebor III alla francese from his ' Moral and Spiritual Forest' Selva morale e spirituale published in Venice in 1640.
This is a near perfect disc - bright, sprightly, responsive and clear. If I'm being picky, I would prefer them to invoke a sense of grandeur in several works without such ponderous tempi. I'm swayed, of course, by knowing Wert's Adesto dolori meo in the brassy sonorities of Capilla Flamenca / Oltremontano (PAS937) but Biscantores have plenty of time to hone that sort of gravitas in future.
For the full text of this review please see Gramophone magazine (July 2023)