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Cat. No. CHDVD 5029 Price: £6 No. of discs: 1
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CHDVD 5029 - Vecchi: L'Amfiparnaso
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Available From: 10 May 2004
Since the earliest days I Fagiolini has enjoyed singing the conventional art music of the Renaissance – the best motets and secular repertoire. Yet I confess always to having had a fascination with some of the more unusual music of the period which tells us much about the people for whom it was written.

L’Amfiparnaso is the classic of its time, rarely done these days because of the virtuosity required of the singers both technically and in terms of characterisation. Many groups have battled with how best to perform it but the solution is to be found in the advice of a contemporary of Vecchi’s, Adriano Banchieri, who says to put the singers out of sight and to use masked commedia actors in front of the backdrop of a Venetian street. This is the basis of our production and one which has met with international acclaim in live performances all over Europe.

One difference between L’Amfiparnaso and other sixteenth-century collections of comic pieces is that the quality of the music throughout is first-rate, especially notable in the lovers’ scenes where Vecchi writes bittersweet miniatures on a par with Gesualdo and Monteverdi’s finest.

Lastly, one crucial level of L’Amfiparnaso lost on a twenty-first century audience is the wordplay. How to recreate the multi-layered puns and lost cultural references that fill this work? Such wonderful untranslatable humour cannot be ignored so our production is punctuated with spoken introductions read by Simon Callow. And if you prefer to listen rather then watch, he says,

‘Then don’t despair – they do sing prettily,

Just shut your eyes and think of Italy.’

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