Rinaldo Alessandrini, Part 5: Back to the Renaissance

Program: #22-05   Air Date: Jan 31, 2022

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This time the Italian early music conductor and performer takes us to Orlando di Lasso’s Neapolitan settings, the Italian organ school around 1600, and Gesualdo’s contemporaries in Northern Italy.

NOTE: All of the music on this program features the Concerto Italiano conducted by our guest, Rinaldo Alessandrini.

I. Orlando di Lasso: Villanelle, Moresche, e Altre Canzone. Opus 111 CD OP 30-94.


The villanelle was a light genre, originating in the popular music of Naples. The idiom is always light-hearted and the counterpoint is simple. Although once in the hands of Franco-Flemish masters like Willaert & Lassus, some of the simplistic features like parallel fifths were removed, these songs continue to be quite simple in character.
The moresca was originally a parody of the speech of Africans living around Naples, but again developed into a slightly more artistic form. Of course, this music is full of racism and sexually explicit content. In fact, the present recording acquired some additional fame by being the first early music recording to require an "obscene lyrics" advisory in the US.

At any rate, this music goes to show the tremendous diversity of Lassus' output. The present recording consists of the complete 23 pieces from Lassus' publication "Villanelle, moresche e altre canzone" of 1581 (however, these songs are reportedly much earlier compositions which Lassus only then chose to publish) along with 4 pieces from other sources (tracks 10, 14, 19, 23). This music stands in sharp contrast to Lassus' sacred music, or his more seriously-minded madrigals & songs.

  1. Allala, pia calia (à 4)
  2. Saccio 'na cosa ch'è di legn'e tonda (à 4)
  3. Lucia, celu, ahi, ahi, biscania (à 4)
  4. S'io ve dico ca sete la chiù bella (à 4)
  5. Ecco la nimph'Ebrayca chiamata (à 4)
  6. Parch'hai lasciato de non t'affacciare? (à 4)
  7. Io ti vorria contar la pena mia (à 4)
  8. Hai, Lucia, bona cosa io dic'a tia (à 4)
  9. Chichilichi? Cucurucu! (à 6)
  10. Oh Lucia, miau, miau (moresca à 3; 1560)
  11. Ad altre le voi dare ste passate (à 4)
  12. Tutto lo di mi dici: canta, canta! (à 4)
  13. Cathalina, apra finestra (à 6)
  14. Tutto 'I dì piango (madrigal à 5; 1567)
  15. Matona, mia cara, mi follere canzon (à 4)
  16. S'io fusse ciaul'e tu lo campanile (à 4)
  17. Ogni giorno m'han ditt'a chi favelli (à 4)
  18. O belle fusa! chi ne vo' accattare (à 4)
  19. Madonna mia, pietà (à 4; 1555)
  20. Canta Georgia, canta (à 6)
  21. S'io ti vedess'una sol volt'il giorno (à 4)
  22. O occhi, manza mia, cigli dorati! (à 4)
  23. Sol' e pensoso i più deserti campi (madrigal à 5; 1555)
  24. Tutto lo dì mi dici: canta, canta! (à 8)
  25. Mi me chiamere Mistre Righe (à 5)
  26. Ola, o che bon eccho! (echo à 8)
  27. Zanni! Piasi, patro? (dialogue à 8)

II. 150 Years of Italian Music, Volume III: Organ & Harpsichord. Opus 111 CD OPS 30-125.

1. Pastorale, Composer – Bernardo Pasquini, 4:20

2. Benedictus Et Elevatio Simul, Composer – Giovanni Battista Fasolo, 3:46

3. Aria Di Fiorenza, Composer – Anonimo*. 5:19

4. Ricercare, Composer – Bernardo Storace, 3:49

5. Canzona, Composer – Tarquinio Merula, 2:49

6. Cromatica, Composer – Emanuele Soncino, 3:09

7. Canzon Detta la Pesenti, Composer – Girolamo Frescobaldi, 3:12

8. Toccata Di Passacagli, Composer – Gregorio Strozzi, 7:14

9. Pass'e Mezzo, Composer – Giovanni Picchi, 5:55

10. Toccata Prima, Composer – Michelangelo Rossi, 4:06

11. Sonata Cromatica, Composer – Tarquinio Merula, 5:34

12. Capricio, Composer – Girolamo Frescobaldi, 3:22

13. Canzona, Composer – Girolamo Frescobaldi, 2:38

14. Ricercare Quarto, Composer – Giovanni Salvatore, 6:42

15. Battaglia, Composer – Adriano Banchieri

III. Gesualdo: O Dolorosa gioia (Opus 111 CD OPS 30-238).

Gesualdo, Concerto Italiano, Rinaldo Alessandrini – O Dolorosa Gioia (2000,  CD) - Discogs

From Gramophone: The first impression from this CD is that Rinaldo Alessandrini’s Gesualdo lacks the burnished warmth of his Monteverdi. The acoustic is less resonant, and the exactitude of the singers’ tuning makes it cold, at times almost claustrophobic; in other words the tone has been judged just about perfectly. We begin with perhaps the most famous madrigal of them all, Moro, lasso, al mio duolo, and the tendency to downplay the dramatic potential of those famous chromatic audacities sets the tone from the start. Indeed, some may find the understatement as surprising as I did. However, these interpretations have real staying power, a narrative persuasiveness that unfolds with repeated listening (while making clear the fragmentation at the heart of the music). To my mind, Concerto Italiano’s approach does Gesualdo more favours than the histrionics that his music can so readily invite. The same is true of Alessandrini’s insert-notes (co-written with Iain Fenlon), which start from the premise that Gesualdo was a real artist, not a musical shock-tactician, nor a composer-cum-psychopath, nor yet a one-trick pony. It is true that similar strategies recur from work to work: for example the sensuous settings of words addressed to the beloved – ‘dolcissimo cor mio’, ‘Dolce del cor tesoro’, both rendered as sensually as possible – and the contrasts with harsher sentiments that immediately follow. It would be absurd to claim for Gesualdo a range to which he probably never aspired. As it is, I defy anyone to guess how the penultimate syllable of the phrase ‘potessi dirti pria ch’io mora’ (in Merce grido piangendo) resolves. That a major chord can be so jarring sums up Gesualdo’s art very neatly, and here as elsewhere the singers find unsuspected poignancy in a pause or a breath. I said before that these performances grow on one: as I write, I’m still listening, and they still do.
The programme begins and ends with madrigals from composers whom Gesualdo admired. The contextualisation of the composer in no way detracts from his achievement. However, these performances are not quite so convincing: they are weighed down by the continuo (harp and theorbo), which is absent from the performances of Gesualdo, and I cannot get used to the timbre of the soprano Alessandrini uses for these pieces – white and rather strained. But his Gesualdo really is indispensable.'

1. Di Mie Dogliose Note
Composed By – Filippo De Monte*

2. Occhi Miei Che Vedeste
Composed By – Pomponio Nenna

3. Se Lontana Voi Siete
Composed By – Giovan Domenico Montella

4. Moro Lasso Al Mio Duolo

5. Se La Mia Morte Brami

6. Beltà Poichè T'Assenti

7. Canzone Del Principe

8. Gioite Voi Col Canto

9. Se Non Miro Non Moro

10. Se Vi Duol Il Mio Duolo

11. Asciugate I Begli Occhi

12. Mercè Grido Piangendo

13. Languisce Al Fin

14. Tu M'Uccidi O Crudele

15. Ahi Cruda Sorte Mia
Composed By – Luzzasco Luzzaschi

16. Lungi Da Te Cor Mio
Composed By – Luzzasco Luzzaschi

17. Itene Mie Querele
Composed By – Luzzasco Luzzaschi



Composer Info

Orlando di Lasso, Bernardo Pasquini, Giovanni Battista Fasolo, Bernardo Storace, Tarquinio Merula, Emanuele Soncino, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Gregorio Strozzi, Giovanni Picchi, Michelangelo Rossi, Giovanni Salvatore, Adriano Banchieri, Filippo De Monte, Pomponio Nenna, Giovan Domenico Montella, Luzzasco Luzzaschi

CD Info

Opus 111 CD OP 30-94, Opus 111 CD OPS 30-125, Opus 111 CD OPS 30-238