Album: Emmanuelle Haim/Le Concert d'Astree, Lamenti (Virgin Classics)

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The Independent Culture

Heaven knows, they were miserable then: focusing on 17th-century Italian songs and operatic extracts, Lamenti suggests that the self-indulgence of the baroque era extended deep into the representation of emotional distress, these verses wallowing in such self-pity that even Morrissey might consider them a tad melodramatic.

Death is the first resort for such as the lovelorn Ariadne in Monteverdi's "Lamento d'Arianna", as she wails, "Death, extinguish thou the contemptible flames!". Likewise Poppea, facing banishment in L'Incoronazione di Poppea, as sung by Joyce DiDonato. Others are more phlegmatic: the woebegone protagonist of Landi's "Superbe Colli" takes solace in knowing that, like the empire, his despair will be ruined. Sung by a dozen or so vocalists, the laments are unified by Emmanuelle Haïm's arrangements for the period Concert d'Astrée, which, backing her harpsichord, furnishes the feather-bedding upon which the devastated subjects recline.

Pick of the album:'Lamento della Ninfa', 'Superbe Colli', 'L'Eraclito Amoroso'

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