Coro della Radio Svizzera, Part 2–Andrea Gabrieli

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Program: #07-24   Air Date: Jun 04, 2007

While we more often hear works by nephew Giovanni, one of the Coro's recordings is of the rarer choral artistry of Andrea Gabrieli.

NOTE: The Coro della Radio Svizzera (the Swiss Radio Choir) comes from Lugano, a city located in the canton of Ticino (in the south of Switzerland). The official language of that canton is Italian (a canton is comparable to a state in the U.S.). Italian is one of the four national languages of Switzerland, along with German, French and Romansh.

The Coro was founded in 1936 by Edwin Lohrer and over the years has won worldwide reputation, particularly through its radio and disc recordings of the Italian repertoire from the 16th through the 18th centuries. The choir appears in formations from madrigal ensembles to over 60 singers from many nations. Diego Fasolis had directed the Coro since 1963. Swiss Radio (particularly Rete Due) is the broadcast home of the ensemble. More information may be found at:

Broadcast of this series is made possible in part by a grant from the Embassy of Switzerland in
Washington, D.C. For more information, you may visit:

Adriano Banchieri: Musical Entertainment from Late Renaissance Italy (Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca, Treviso/Coro della Radio Svizzera/Diego Fasolis). Naxos CD 8.553785.

ADRIANO BANCHIERI 1568-1634): Il Zabalone musicale. From the notes:

II zabaione musicale, a title that defies plausible translation, described additionally as Inventione boscareccia (a sylvan invention), was published in Milan in 1604. A modern scholar has described the work as a synthesis of madrigal styles, presenting, in its three acts, the contemporary development of the form. The first act, it is suggested, presents the bucolic, the second the Renaissance refinement of the form in the Intermedi, with their element of spectacle, and the third the final dramatic development. The entertainment offers a mixture of various seasonings, as Banchieri explains in his own preface, and consists of a series of five-part madrigals, a form of polyphonic drama or rather, here, a series of short dramatic scenes.

The work starts with an Introduction, in which vocal parts are allocated, leading to the final invitation to enjoyment of the dish, the upper parts moving over a slowly rising bass line. The Prologue is offered by L 'Humor Spensierato (Carefree Humour), an exhortation to the shepherd company, in this conventional Arcadian setting, to banish melancholy. There follows the Intermedio di felici pastori (Intermedio of Happy Shepherds), described as a due cori (for two choruses) and using corresponding vocal grouping between the five parts in praise of the joys of love. Progne e Filomela (Procne and Philomela) offers a moment of melancholy, one of the four traditional humours and an important affetto in developing musical theory of the time, according to which a piece of music might rightly express or, in Platonic or Aristotelian terms, awaken in the listener a single state of mind, properly evoked. The myth of Procne and Philomela concerns the crime of the husband of Procne, King Tereus of Thrace, who raped Procne's sister, Philomela, and cut out her tongue. The sisters took their revenge by killing Procne's son by Tereus and serving him up as dinner for his father. The sisters were transformed into birds, one a swallow, the other a nightingale, while Tereus became a hoopoe. The succeeding dance of five shepherdesses is to the sound of the Spagnoletto, a dance with a fixed and repeated harmonic pattern. For the repetition of the dance a cornamusa is called for, an instrument generally identified with the shepherd bagpipe. Banchieri now adds a setting of a pastoral poem by the well known poet and humanist Giambattista Guarini.

The second act of II zabaione starts with the Intermedio di pignattari (Intermedio of Cooking-Pot Sellers), with a text taken from a collection of five-part madrigals published by Manilio Caputi in Naples in 1593. There follows a shepherd lament for a bird killed by a cat, its text attributed to an otherwise unknown Agostino da Padova. In Tirsi a Clori (Thyrsis to Chloris), with its imitative entries, the shepherd addresses his beloved, leading to a dialogue between the shepherd Amyntas and Daphne, and Cupid's verdict. The light-hearted sport of the little sparrow, in which the bird is gradually eaten, ends the act, after which a more formal madrigal is interposed, with a text by Alberto Parma.

A setting of a further text by Banchieri himself opens the third act, Ergasto appassionato (Passionate Ergastus), a lover's complaint. Two shepherd lovers, Silvio and Carino sing of their beloved Amaryllis and Phyllis, while in the following Gara amorosa di pas tori (Love Contest of Shepherds), two madrigals are interwoven, the first entrusted to the top three voices and the second to tenor and bass. There is a dance of nymphs and shepherds, before the five voices impersonate L 'Humore Spensierato for the epilogue or Licenza, and the final Viva il dolce Zabaion (Long live sweet Zabaione).

BANCHIERI: Festino nella sera del Giovedi Grasso avanti Cena, Op. 18. From the notes:

Banchieri's Festino nella sera del giovedi grasso avanti cena (Entertainment for the Eve of Carnival Thursday before Dinner) was published in Venice in 1608 and is again in five parts rather than the three that he more often favoured. Appearing as Opus 18, it opens with an address from Diletto Moderno (Modern Pleasure), in which he explains how, as he came in, he had met an old man, Rigore, representing the old-fashioned style of composition. This reported dialogue suggests that Banchieri was an unqualified champion of the modern style, although the respect he shows elsewhere to Monteverdi's critic Artusi may indicate, at the least, an acknowledgement of the merits of the old style, the so-called prima prattica of Palestrina. The relevant part of Banchieri's prologue is included, with a translation, in the texts given below. The Festino has thoroughly modern elements, in contrast to its more conventional madrigals, and opens with an invitation to light-hearted amusement. In the following madrigal, based on commedia dell'arte characters, the gondolier, his godfather and old Pantaloon offer the balletto of old greybeard Giandon. The Mascherata di Villanelle has a spinster admiring her own supposed beauty, words sung by the two upper voices, to an imitated instrumental accompaniment followed by an additional Jew's harp solo. A madrigal with imitative entries now urges the pursuit of love. A chromatic madrigal to a sweet nightingale leads to the Mascherata d'Amanti (Masque of Lovers) in which the voices imitate instruments, lute and harpsichord. The lovers now sing a Moresca, to the pattern of the traditional Spagnoletto, with its repeated harmonies, followed by a madrigal, described as artificioso. They proceed to a canzonetta with some strange notes. Now Aunt Bernadina tells a story, followed by a three-voice Capricciata. Banchieri now introduces an animal chorus, a dog, a cuckoo, a cat and an owl, with a bass providing the necessary musical foundation in dog-Latin. A serious madrigal leads to an Intermedio of spindle-sellers, who then sing a madrigal. The comic tongue-twister of the Count is succeeded by the revellers, in homophonic mood, and a drinking-song, a toast to each of the singers. Street vendors lead to the final epilogue of Diletto Moderno.

Composer Info


CD Info

Naxos CD 8.553785,

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