Review by: John Greene

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Tenor Marco Beasley’s previous contributions in L’Arpeggiata’s La Tarantella (type Q7699 in Search Reviews) were impressive. As the lone vocal soloist in this program titled La Bella Noeva (The Good One) Beasley (accompanied by the period-instrument ensemble Accordone) again delivers cogent, spirited performances of primarily late-Renaissance works. Unlike in the more limited repertoire of La Tarantella, La Bella Noeva’s more varied and diverse subject matter allows Beasley an even greater opportunity to display his range and versatility.

Giuilio Caccini’s two love songs, O mia donna amata and E’ il canto del cuore, form a nice back-to-back comparison, showing Beasley’s ability to evoke the different moods of each work. His broader gestures in the former are quieter and more lamentation-like compared to the livelier celebratory nature of the latter. Yet, this telling contrast hardly prepares us for the fun Beasley and his colleagues engage in as the program continues.

For example, Beasley’s own composition Racconta per ore (It tells for hours) is a highly spirited Tarentella that today sounds as stylistically fitting as if it had been written 500 years ago. Here Beasley’s numerous cries for help, his ongoing hallucinogenic descriptions, and his declarations of impending insanity are delivered with a repetitive fluency bordering on “rap”. The instrumental accompaniment (guided by baroque guitarist Stefano Rocco and Guido Morini on harpsichord) effectively augments the work’s rhythmic momentum.

Beasley really shines in the program’s longest work–an anonymously composed, two-part short story disguised as a song, Se defenisce che cos’e Ammore… (Definition of Love…)/Di guerre d’amore (Love’s battles). Here Beasley’s excellent diction and expressive agility are stunning as he assumes various character roles that often are sung at reckless speed. His falsetto (especially during the Sardine’s aria) and lower-octave growl used to personify old Mother Blenny are particularly hilarious.

Alpha’s engineering is generally fine, though unlike many of the label’s previous offerings where the sound was more convincingly balanced, at times the instrumentalists seem unnaturally attenuated in the mix. Franco Pavan’s informative notes include many entertaining anecdotes. All fans of Italian song–no matter what period–surely will delight in this inspired recital.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: this one

Solo vocal works by Stefani, Monteverdi, Caccini, Marini, others -

Share This Review: