Most of those who have encountered Monteverdi’s madrigals have lost their teeth, especially the British ensembles, whose disembodied purity floats light years away from the flesh-and-blood theater of the Cremonese composer. Undertaken around thirty years ago, the masterful complete collection of nine books of madrigals by Rinaldo Alessandrini and his Concerto Italiano is finally published in full by Naïve. If the temporal extent of the process inevitably causes some – forgivable – disparities in the rendering, whether in terms of staff or sound recording, the physical commitment of the singers and the adequacy between the text and the vocal color leave you speechless. One of the boxes of the year!

A few testimonies of the art of pianist Lars Vogt are still emerging here and there since his tragic and premature death in September 2022 at the age of 51, including his moving recording of Mozart’s Concertos Nos. 9 and 24, of which we have made the eulogy here at the beginning of the month, but also a disc dedicated to the chamber music of Schubert (on Ondine). The German musician is far from being new to the Viennese composer, and it shows. The different pieces, including the two trios and the “Arpeggione” Sonata (version for cello and piano), produced with two lifelong accomplices, brother and sister Christian and Tanja Tetzlaff (violinist and cellist respectively), breathe life.

Franck is another composer who is difficult to do justice to. His Symphony in D minor, recorded many times, is no exception. The music of the Belgian composer exiled in Paris, who never managed to make a career in opera, is infused with a fire which contrasts with the Epinal image of “Pater seraphicus” attached to the musician during his lifetime. One of the competitors in the running for the succession of Kent Nagano, the Frenchman Alain Altinoglu has somehow solved the squaring of the circle (at Alpha) by digging into the chromatic meanders of the score without sacrificing the main line and without losing lyricism. The Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra ideally brings the Franckist orchestration to life, all in chiaroscuro. As complements, the “Symphonic Piece” from the oratorio The Redemption and the symphonic poem The Accursed Hunter.

Pittsburgh may only be the 27th largest city in the United States, but its symphony orchestra, which has included the Reiners, Maazels and Prévins of the world, is a gem among the country’s orchestras, especially since the arrival of the Austrian Manfred Honeck at its head in 2007. Their latest recording achievement is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 (under the Reference label), which they already recorded in 2006 (interesting but less accomplished) when the conductor was part of the selection process which would soon place him at the head of the Pennsylvanian phalanx. This new version is a miracle of cohesion and enthusiasm, all in a recording that ideally highlights the orchestral paste of the Russian composer. The conductor, who, unusually, signs the text of the libretto, also offers an arrangement of Schulhoff’s Five Pieces for String Quartet.

Respighi’s three great symphonic cycles (Pines of Rome, Fountains of Rome and Roman Festivals), among the peaks of orchestral writing in the 20th century, depict, in a sort of Italian impressionism, different elements of the folklore of the Italian capital (Trevi Fountain, Janiculum pines, Epiphany festival, etc.). It is a true work of craftsmanship that the American conductor Robert Treviño engages in these three scores in a new recording (Ondine) made with the National Symphony Orchestra of the Italian Broadcasting, of which he is the principal guest conductor . Far from making a cold mosaic (like Ozawa at Deutsche Grammophon), he emphasizes in abundance the sensual Respighian poetry. Fascinating !