Italian Madrigals at the Cusp of the Baroque

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Program: #17-07   Air Date: Feb 06, 2017

In time for Valentine’s Day, some madrigals of love from around 1600

I. Andrea Gabrieli: Madrigali et Ricercari a quattro voci (Speculum Ensemble/Tastar de Corde). Centaur CD CRC 3471.

After the second half of the 16th Century, St Mark’s ‘sound’ can be identified mainly with polychoral music which constituted, from Willaert’s office onwards, the trait which made vocal and instrumental practice in Venice “unique”. Andrea Gabrieli (1532/33 – 1585), organist and then maestro di cappella in St Mark’s, was the unquestioned protagonist of the Venetian musical scene for many years. Venetian polychoral music, with its very peculiar sound, was dependent on a range of elements which gave rise to the renown of the cantors and instrumentalists at the service of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, who also performed in the routine ceremonials in the Palazzo dei Dogi, rather than exclusively in St Mark’s Basilica, as we can learn from the vast bibliography available and, amongst others, from the studies of David Bryant and Iain Fenlon. Thanks to this research, notwithstanding the scarce documents remaining, it is possible to outline the main stages of Andrea Gabrieli’s life, nestled and interwoven with the musical and cultural fabric of his Venice. […]

The collection, printed between the end of 1589 (all part-books except the Bass) and the first months of 1590 (Bass only), reveals uneven stylistic traits also in its music. It includes, in fact, samples from the more archaic practices - such as madrigals alla breve - to more recent ones, such as expressive chromaticism and proficiency with all the elements of the technical-compositional toolbox of a madrigalist of Lombardo-Venetian extraction in the second half of the 16th Century. Rhythm definition and variation play a fundamental role in Gabrieli’s music, related to the meaning of the poetic text, interwoven in a rapid chase of the melodic pattern, variously distributed between the four vocal and instrumental lines. In most of his vocal compositions, homorhythmic and harmonic density contribute to create an expressive soundpanel, and the interpretation offered in this recording has placed special attention in accurately portraying these aspects. The seven instrumental ricercares, which in the original publication of 1589/90 close the volume - and which in this recording are used to separate groups of madrigals, recorded respecting the original succession – also reflect a stylistic variety given by different years of composition: part of them follows the traditional imitative procedures involving several sections and different subjects, sensitive to rhythmical mutations and capable of creating variations in tempo and accent on a regular scheme; while a smaller part embodies the precepts of the instrumental canzone, accompanied by more evident acoustic effects.

The interpretative choice of Marcello Candela’s ensemble is essentially based on a meticulous and in-depth research in the performing practice of the time and offers, for the first time in the recording industry, a systematic performance of the entire vocal and instrumental 1589/90 collection, with an evocative interpretative proposal, original but still true to the musical style of Gabrieli’s time. It is a rare occasion for the listener to appreciate the sound of Venice in the last years of Italian Renaissance.

1 Giovane donna sott'un verde lauro: Pt. 1, Giovane 00:02:06

2 Giovane donna sott'un verde lauro: Pt. 2, Allor sa 00:02:42

3 Giovane donna sott'un verde lauro: Pt. 3, Ma perch 00:02:20

4 Giovane donna sott'un verde lauro: Pt. 4, Non fur 00:02:01
L'temo di cangiar pria volto e chiome (quinta part 00:02:00

5 Giovane donna sott'un verde lauro: Pt. 5, I temo d 00:02:09
Dentro pur fuoco e fuor candida neve (sesta e ulti 00:02:00

6 Giovane donna sott'un verde lauro: Pt. 6, Dentro p 00:02:19
Ricercar del primo tonuo (arr. for chamber ensembl 00:06:00

7 Ricercar del primo tono 00:05:37
Occhi sereni, angeliche parole 00:03:00

8 Occhi sereni, angeliche parole 00:02:48
O belli e vaghi pizzi 00:03:00

9 O belli e vaghi pizzi 00:03:02
Veggo fra i raggi d'oro 00:03:00

10 Veggo fra i raggi d'oro 00:03:02
Vieni vieni Imeneo che già sen fugg'il sole 00:02:00

11 Vieni vieni Imeneo che già sen fugg'il sole 00:02:02
Ricercar del secondo tonuo (arr. for chamber ensem 00:05:00

12 Ricercar del secondo tonuo (1) 00:05:18
Fuor fuori a sì bel canto (Pastori, prima parte) 00:02:00

13 Fuor fuori a sì bel canto: Pt. 1, Fuor fuori a sì 00:01:36
Deh, mira con bella (seconda parte) 00:02:00

14 Fuor fuori a sì bel canto: Pt. 2, Deh, mira come b 00:01:29
Ricercari, Book 1 00:03:00

15 Ricercar del secondo tonuo (2) 00:02:42
In quest'amante sponde (Ninfe, prima parte) 00:02:00

16 In quest'amante sponde ninfe: Pt. 1, In quest'aman 00:02:09
E d'odorati fiori (seconda parte) 00:01:00

17 In quest'amante sponde ninfe: Pt. 2, E d'odorati f 00:01:15
Ricercar del settimo tonuo (arr. for chamber ensem 00:04:00

18 Ricercar del settimo tonuo 00:03:35
Asia felice or ben posso chiamarni (prima parte) 00:02:00

19 Asia felice hor ben posso chiamarni, Pt. 1: Asia f 00:01:42
E io p1iù allor felice, Africa, peine (seconda par 00:01:00

20 Asia felice hor ben posso chiamarni, Pt, 2: E io p 00:01:24
Felice Europa, anch'io godo non meno (terza parte) 00:02:00

21 Asia felice hor ben posso chiamarni, Pt, 3: Felice 00:01:35
Ricercar del sesto tonuo (arr. for chamber ensembl 00:04:00

22 Ricercar del sesto tonuo 00:03:43
Canzon, se l'esser meco 00:02:00

23 Canzon, se l'esser meco 00:02:12
Canto, canto! Festa, festa! "Coro dei Putti" 00:01:00

24 Canto, canto! Festa, festa! 00:01:16
Febo, febo noi cantiamo, "Coro di Febo" 00:01:00

25 Febo, Febo noi cantiamo 00:00:44
Ricercar del nono tonuo (arr. for chamber ensemble 00:03:00

26 Ricercar del nono tonuo 00:03:23
Grazie che'l mio signor largo destina (prima parte 00:02:00

27 Grazie che'l mio signor largo destina, Pt. 1: Graz 00:02:19
Sguardi ch'ardon il coro de' freddi smalti (second 00:02:00

28 Grazie che'l mio signor largo destina, Pt. 2: Sgua 00:01:48
Ricercar del dodicesimo tonuo (arr. for chamber en 00:03:00

29 Ricercar del dodicesimo tonuo 00:02:54
Vorrei mostrar, Madonna 00:03:00

30 Vorrei mostrar, Madonna 00:03:04
Dunque il comun poter guingend’i 00:02:00


II. Mazzone—Il Primo Libro della Canzoni a Quattro voci (Ensemble Le Vaghe Ninfe). Brillant Classics CD 95416.

Mazzone: Il Primo libro delle canzoni a Quattro voci

Marco Antonio Mazzone (1556-1626) was a composer, musician, clergyman and a man of letters, author of several literary works.

In his book of Madrigals for 4 voices he places the text and the music on the same level, the consanguinity of these two arts: “notes are the body of music and words are the soul, and as the soul must be followed and imitated by the body to be more worthy of it, so the notes must follow and imitate the words”.

The first Madrigal book contains both secular and sacred songs. The performance by the ensemble “Le vaghe ninfe” follows the performance practice of the period, in which much importance was laid on variety: a cappella, voice and organ, tablature for guitar or harpsichord, alternating voices and instrumental ensemble. When the madrigal is performed with instruments only the music is preceded by the reading of the poem.

Marco Antonio Mazzone was a contemporary of Claudio Monteverdi, probably also based in Venice for the greater part of his career. He was also a renowned man of letters, who published treatises on poetics and Classics as well as composing several books of madrigals. The star of his contemporary may now have almost entirely eclipsed Mazzone, but he was sufficiently renowned in his own time to have written works for the munificent patronage of the Gonzaga family, as Monteverdi did.

The 21 canzoni recorded here follow Monteverdi’s innovations in the ‘seconda prattica’ style of composition – Palestrina being considered master of the ‘prima prattica’ – in which, as Mazzone himself says, ‘the notes must follow and imitate the words’. They were published in 1591 and dedicated to Vincenzo Gonzaga. The conzoni divide almost equally between sacred and secular texts, which were also composed by Mazzone, addressing love human and divine. Mazzone’s settings are supple and economical, bending to the line and direction of the poetry, always prizing maximum clarity of meaning but also creating moments of great harmonic beauty in their own right. As a priest, Mazzone explained in his poetics that he mixed sacred and secular in order to entice singers and listeners towards a contemplation of God.

This recording is supervised by Maria Antoinietta Cancellaro, who founded the Ensemble Le vaghe ninfe as a flexible group of historically informed musicians to perform Renaissance and Baroque repertoire. She has produced her own edition of the music on this recording, as well as several other critical editions of music from the period. Several of the canzone are performed as instrumental numbers, with the texts recited before the music. Others are sung as solos, or with several voices, and with mixed instrumental accompaniment according to the character of the music, including violin, flute, percussion and an antique serpent.

1 Come la vaga Aurora
2 Cantando gía la vaga pastorella
3 Donna, sei pur crudele
4 Giva cogliendo fior una mattina
5 Rinova, amor, questa Fenice altiera
6 A la dolce ombra degli ameni faggi
7 Se d'amoroso foco
8 Udite, amanti, come suol Amore
9 Il cor languisce ognora
10 Vola nel bel sereno
11 Un novo sol al cielo
12 A guisa di smarrita pecorella
13 Fiorite valli amene
14 A guisa di nocchier afflitto e stanco
15 La vita nostra è una continua Guerra
16 Crudel, perché non senti
17 Onde prendesti, amore
18 Un fior almo e giocondo
19 Deh ferma, amor, costei
20 Ne' miei gravosi affanni

III. Giovanni Valentini—Secondo libro de madrigali (Les Canards Chantants/Acronym). Olde Focus Recordings CD FCR908.

Giovanni Valentini: Secondo Libro de Madrigali

These eighteen songs of love and war are passionate, tempestuous, and overflowing with the beauty of the early Baroque. Giovanni Valentini was born in 1582/3 in or around Venice. In 1614 he joined the court of the Archduke Ferdinand–soon to be the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II–at Graz, and upon Ferdinand’s 1619 election Valentini moved to Vienna to serve as Imperial organist. He succeeded Giovanni Priuli as Hofkapellmeister in 1626, and he was ennobled in 1627. From the 1620s through 1640s Valentini oversaw much of the musical life of Vienna. He was music tutor to the Imperial family and retained his position of Hofkapellmeister under Ferdinand III, who took the throne in 1637. A number of both contemporary and later references to him suggest that he was a keyboard player. In 1604 or 1605, he was appointed organist of the Polish court chapel under King Zygmunt III Vasa; his earliest collections of canzoni (Venice, 1609) and motets (Venice, 1611) were printed during his service there. In 1614 he joined the court of the Archduke Ferdinand of Inner Austria at Graz as the ‘newly appointed chamber organist from Poland’. After Ferdinand’s accession to the throne of the Holy Roman Emperor in 1619 as Ferdinand II, Valentini moved to Vienna with the other musicians of the Graz music chapel and in December 1619, he was first imperial court organist with an annual salary of 360 florins. After nearly seven years, on 15 June 1626, Valentini succeeded Giovanni Priuli to the post of the Hofkapellmeister. In 1627, he was ennobled and, at about the same time, accepted the duties of regens chori at the Michaelerkirche in Vienna, until at least 1631. His service as imperial Kapellmeister continued under Ferdinand III (to whom he was a tutor in music), and he was involved in the production of the earliest operas in Vienna during the 1620s and 30s. During his last years he was involved with the composition of sacred dramatic works and writing Italian poetry (including the earliest sepolcri, for which only librettos survive). During Ferdinand III’s reign (1637–57), Valentini, like Johann Jakob Froberger, enjoyed an unusually close relationship with the imperial family, serving as an authority on musical and literary matters. He died in Vienna on 29/30 April 1649.

O come bello appare

02 Bella Isabella, bella
Bella Isabella, bella

03 Queste lacrime mie
Queste lacrime mie

04 Chi nudrisse tua speme
Chi nudrisse tua speme

05 Ridete pur, ridete
Ridete pur, ridete

06 È bello quel che piace
È bello quel che piace

07 È sogno o ver? se sogni, ahi chi dipinge
È sogno o ver? se sogni, ahi chi dipinge

08 Schiera d’aspri martiri
Schiera d’aspri martiri

09 Gioir, gioir fugace
Gioir, gioir fugace

10 Neve e rose ha nel volto
Neve e rose ha nel volto

11 Ardi contento e taci
Ardi contento e taci

12 Ahi, chi mi fa languire
Ahi, chi mi fa languire

13 Spente eran nel mio cor l’antiche fiamme
Spente eran nel mio cor l’antiche fiamme

14 Ecco maggio seren, chi l’ha vestito
Ecco maggio seren, chi l’ha vestito

15 Vagheggiando le bell’onde
Vagheggiando le bell’onde

16 Amor amaramente amar mi fai
Amor amaramente amar mi fai

17 In bel giardino all’aura amena e grata
In bel giardino all’aura amena e grata

18 Guerra, guerra tu brami
Guerra, guerra tu brami

Composer Info

Andrea Gabrieli (1532/33 – 1585), Marco Antonio Mazzone (1556-1626), Giovanni Valentini ( 1582/3- 1649)

CD Info

CD CRC 3471, CD 95416, CD FCR908.