Yet Three More from Tactus

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Program: #20-05   Air Date: Jan 20, 2020

The History of St. Martin, 1558; Marian music of the early Italian Baroque; and mandolin compositions by Filippo Sauli.

NOTE: All of the recordings on this program are part of the Italian label Tactus. For more information about their US availability:

I. La Historia del Beato San Martino (Cappella Musicale di San Giacomo Maggiore, Bologna/Roberto Cascio). Tactus CD TC 520003.

La Historia del Beato San Martino Product Image

Within this recording the reading of the 'Historia del Beato San Martino', a devotional text from the beginning of the sixteenth century is brought to light for the first time on CD. The music narrates in a fresh and popular language the events of San Martino of Tours, through a colourful account of his life, which plunges us into the typical mixed atmosphere of divine and profane of the end of Humanism and beginning of the Renaissance. The reciting voice of Roberto Cascio is flanked by the instrumental ensemble of the Cappella Musicale di San Giacomo Maggiore in Bologna. The choice of music was based on the particular period of Italian music prevalent at the end of the 1400s and the beginning of the 1500s, and, in particular, on the widespread devotional-laud genre and the use of spiritual camouflaging (in fact, the melodies derived from the secular repertoire, which, in turn and very often, came from the many French composers who, at that time, frequented the most important Italian courts)

La Historia del Beato San Martino was first published in an edition that can not date beyond 1520; reprinted in 1558 it was included in an anthology of sacred representations in 1578 entitled Terzo libro di feste, rappresentationi, et comedie spirituali, di diuersi santi, e sante, del Testamento Vecchio, et nuouo, composte da diuersi autori. Nuouamente poste insieme, e parte non piu stampate.The Historia, has 30 octaves using a hendecasyllable rhyming of AB AB AB CC (the typical strambotto form). The text is quite clear, even though the print in certain places is ruined, making those parts illegible. We are, however, aided by the edition, dating not later than 1520, and fortunately intact and kept in the National Library of Florence (the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale). This version, in comparison to the one of 1558, presents some textual differences (sancto instead of santo; baptesimo instead of battesima; nocte instead of notte, and so forth). Futhermore, the comparison of different words in the two versions helps to clarify some of the passages which, otherwise, would not be clear. What is striking about these sacred representations is the lively and folkish language that - whether simple or austere, or pertaining to high or low class, human or divine, angelic or infernal characters - leads us back to and evokes the naturalness of daily language in life – be it, at times, slang, dialectal or proverbial (as, for example, in the near-quarrelling between San Martino and his altar boy, or the dialogue between Martino, still a soldier, and the emperor who should behave as one would expect - grand, inspired, enlightened – but rather presents himself (as certain folk traditions would have it) as a threatening and resentful troop corporal, because of his rancorous rage. The tale of the Historia follows the well-known story of San Martino’s conversion and of him cutting his cloak, but it also introduces elements (in addition to the well-known main events) such as San Martino’s pagan name, Chatalchuno, and the story of another cloak that, along with the first one, seems to actually enwrap Martino’s life, and presents us with a man who, even before being beatified, was prey to passions and anxieties. The choice of music was based on the particular period of Italian music prevalent at the end of the 1400s and the beginning of the 1500s, and, in particular, on the widespread devotional-laud genre and the use of spiritual camouflaging (in fact, the melodies derived from the secular repertoire, which, in turn and very often, came from the many French composers who, at that time, frequented the most important Italian courts). Certainly, what could be the first original Historia text (that is, the one from the Florentine Library), due to its cultural context and historical dating, can, I believe, coincide with that of the publication of the first musical works released at the very beginning of the 1500s by the printing presses of Petrucci’s Venetian workshop (Lauds, chansons and frottole). In this regard, amongst these musical works, we have included one of the more unique sacred compositions of the frottola genre, Salve sacrato legno, by Marchetto Cara (a rhyming octave of AB AB AB CC). Further traces date the Historia to the Renaissance music of the turn of the century. For example, the representation of 1555 by Carnasciale and Quaresimabegins with a Frottola di Carnasciale entitled Compagnoni io vi vocontare (a musical and literary genre which was no longer in use at that time). In other places, the desire to put a story into song (which was rather common of the literary genre then), takes us back to the style of the troubadours and the poet singers who were typical figures of the Renaissance courts and squares. In musical terms, the use of short, simple and repetitive Laud melodies, or the use of very popular secular melodies can be compared to the simple language of the above-mentioned sacred representations. The sole purpose was to maintain the ideal of religious, devout and fearful life, especially amongst the commoners. --Roberto Cascio

1 . La Historia del Beato San Martino--Anonimo XV sec.17:44

2 . O croce sancta--Petrus Hedus (1427-1504) 1:51

3 . Borombetta--Roberto Cascio 0:47

4 . L’amor a mi venendo--Innocentius Dammonis (XV sec.) 1:38

5 . O vergene gentile--Petrus Hedus (1427-1504) 2:26

6 . O derata--Anonimo XV sec. 3:36

7 . O bella rosa--Anonimo XV sec. 2:28

8 . Salve sacrato legno--Marchetto Cara (1465-1525) 1:45

9 . Ave Maria, verzene coronata--Petrus Hedus (1427-1504) 1:35

10. Qui tollis peccata mundi--Vincenzo Capirola (1474-1548) 2:52

11. Verbum caro--Anonimo XV sec.4:02

12. Jay pris amours--Anonimo XV sec.2:51

13. Padoana ala francese Vincenzo Capirola (1474-1548) 4:45

14. Jay pris amours--Anonimo XV sec. (intavolatura R. Cascio) 2:04

15. Fortune destrange; pauper sum ego--Josquin des Prez (1450-1521) 1:32

16. O crux, fructus salvificus--Anonimo XV sec.3:02

17. Calata ala spagnola ditto terzetti--Joan Ambroso Dalza (?-1508) 4:02

18. O crux, fructus salvificus--Anonimo XV sec.1:28

II. Ave Virgo Gloriosa: Marian Music from the Renaissance to the Baroque (Vox Poetica Ensemble/Nova LAta/Sabino Manza). Tactus CD TC 600006.

Ave Virgo Gloriosa Product Image

The cult and devotion to Mary have been among the greatest and most important sources of inspiration for all the arts in the history of humanity, and in the history of music they have given rise to a myriad of compositions that have spanned the centuries since the beginning of Christianity to the present day. Within this record the ensembles Vox Poetica and Nova Alta directed by the master Sabino Manzo offer to us some examples of the most significant Italian composers of the Renaissance and Baroque period, starting from the 'divine' Claudio Monteverdi, a milestone in the history of music, up to to Alessandro Scarlatti, a leading exponent of that Neapolitan school that in the eighteenth century exploded in all its shining vitality, passing through Girolamo Frescobaldi, 'monster organist' whose fame as a composer and keyboardist went across the Italian borders.

This anthology of Marian music (to the glory of the Blessed Virgin (Ave Virgo Gloriosa)) mixes a small number of Italian composers of the seventeenth century, from Claudio Merulo to Alessandro Scarlatti, representing the Neapolitan school, with an obvious nod to the greatest: Claudio Monteverdi. From the latter we hear three pieces from his two most famous Venetian collections, the "Laetania della Beata Vergine" (1650) and the "Selva Morale e spirituale" (Magnificat 1640). The purely instrumental pieces are also inseparable from this repertoire, these are the "Canzoni di sonare a 4” by Merulo, Frescobaldi, and the unknown Giovanni Battista Grillo (Canzon Sestadecima). 
As for Alessandro Scarlatti he is here represented by a later Salve Regina ( 1703). The aesthetic of the interpretation of Vox Poetica refers more to the Palestrinia tradition than to the madrigalesque vein. The musical phrases are very clipped as if the sound engineer wanted to make us hear them separately, creating a linear polyphonic speech without relief. The male voices are slightly stiff, and the sopranos disembodied. The Nova Alta instrumentalists are defined by the same process of indifferentiation which they seem diligently applied to decipher; thus all idiosyncrasy is erased. The whole could seem frozen, stiff, inexpressive, were it not for the splendor of these scores and the musicality of the Italian language. (Jérôme Angouillant)

Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)
Salve Regina

Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643)
Conzon seconda à 4
Ave Virgo gloriosa
Canzon sesta, à 4

Claudio Merulo (1533-1604)
Canzon à 4 L'olica

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
Magnificat secondo à 4 voci in genere da Capella
Laetaniae della Beata Vergine

Giovanni Battista Grillo (?-1622)
Canzon sestadecima à 4

III. Filippo Sauli: Sei Partite per mandolino solo (Davide Rebuffa, mandolin/Rosanna Turone, harpsichord). Tactus CD TC 671901.


The absolute rarity represented by this world premiere concerning the historic mandolin is offered to us by the rediscovery and performance of the specialist Davide Rebuffa, that, on two original eighteenth century instruments brings to light the Six Partitas for solo mandolin by Filippo Sauli. Unfortunately we do not have much information about the life of the composer of Florentine origins, but we know that he was hired in Vienna at the Hapsburg court in the early eighteenth century when he probably composed this music that, as compared to the seventeenth-century manuscripts (whose content consists of simple dances, not yet in extended musical forms such as Suites or Sonatas), mark an important change in the nature of the mandolin repertoire of the Baroque period.

From Music Web International: Filippo Sauli has escaped the attention of all the works of musical reference that I have been able to consult (from Grove ‘downwards’). Such information as I can offer comes exclusively, therefore, from the booklet notes to the present CD, by Davide Rebuffa, a musicologist as well as a performer (his edition of these partitas by Sauli was published by Ut Orpheus in 2016). Sauli’s dates of birth and death seem to be unknown. He apparently had Florentine origins, but the first record of him in a musical context is when he was appointed as a theorbist and player of the mandolin at the court of Joseph I at Vienna in 1707. He continued to work at that court and references to him occasionally crop up in court documents. He must have worked alongside the more famous Francesco Conti (1681/2-1732) and probably deputized for Conti when the latter had other commitments. Sauli seems to have lost his job around 1719 and he unsuccessfully sought reinstatement in 1722. Rebuffa mentions no later date in connection with Sauli. How long he stayed in Vienna or whether (and when) he returned to Italy seems not to be known.

Sauli’s six partitas per il mandolin solo survive in a manuscript (PU II KK 36), not in Sauli’s own hand, currently in the Roudnická Lobokowiczká at the very handsome Nelahozeves Castle, less than 40 kilometres north of Prague. The partitas are written for a four-course mandolin and on this recording Rebuffa plays them on two early instruments with gut strings. The booklet contains photographs of both instruments. One was made by Stefano Franchi of Florence; it is dated 1727 and was restored in 2008 by Federico Gabrielli of Milan; the other is by an unknown maker of the late XVII-early XVIII century, and was also restored by Gabrieli in 2011.

Such limited evidence as there is suggests that this set of partitas was composed in the first decade of the 1700s. In the surviving manuscript all are written in French tablature on four-line staves. Rebuffa suggests that the composer might have expected them to be played with a figured bass accompaniment (if he wrote such himself they seem to have been lost). But as Rebuffa’s own performances show, they work perfectly well without such an accompaniment – though I have to say that the second version of Partita V recorded here, which uses a harpsichord to provide a basso continuo accompaniment (presumably extrapolated by Rebuffa) makes for a less cloistered and more ‘dramatic’ sound.

All of the partitas are here recorded for the first time. The partitas have between 4 (nos. IV and VI) and six (I and II) movements. They do not follow, as one might have expected them to do, the model provided by Corelli’s sonatas, since Sauli is also clearly influenced, as the Viennese court in general was, by French models. No. V, for example, begins with a French Ouverture.

It would be wrong to make any extravagant claims for this music. It will not change anybody’s perspective on the music of its time. In the nature of things, music written for a four-course mandolin could never be particularly complex or range across too many keys. But Sauli’s writing has a decided charm, and a simple elegance, a quiet and intimate refinement – the experience of listening to them (it is probably best not to listen to the whole CD straight through) is like listening to the conversation of an erudite but unpretentious friend. In both cases a certain degree of concentration is required; the listening cannot be merely passive if the experience is to be enjoyed to the full. Rebuffa’s playing is technically accomplished and he makes a good case for this music. The two versions of Partita V invite listeners to make some interesting comparisons – one of the incidental pleasures that this CD provides.

Any reader who shares my love of, and fascination with, the instruments of the lute family and their music will find this disc of interest, in part because of its rarity value, in part for purely aesthetic reasons. Others may think it too specialized a taste.

Partita No. 1 00:06:00
1.  Partita No. 1: I. Allemanda 00:01:27 Rebuffa, Davide
2.  Partita No. 1: II. Corrente 00:01:51 Rebuffa, Davide
3.  Partita No. 1: III. Sarabanda 00:01:31 Rebuffa, Davide
4.  Partita No. 1: IV. Bourrée 00:01:27 Rebuffa, Davide
5.  Partita No. 1: V. Giga 00:01:19 Rebuffa, Davide
6.  Partita No. 1: VI. Menuetto 00:01:09 Rebuffa, Davide

Partita No. 2 00:07:00
7.  Partita No. 2: I. Preludio. Allemanda 00:02:14 Rebuffa, Davide
8.  Partita No. 2: II. Sarabande 00:01:47 Rebuffa, Davide
9.  Partita No. 2: III. Corrente 00:01:23 Rebuffa, Davide
10.  Partita No. 2: IV. Giga 00:01:32 Rebuffa, Davide
11.  Partita No. 2: V. Gavotta 00:01:23 Rebuffa, Davide
12.  Partita No. 2: VI. Menuetto 00:01:01 Rebuffa, Davide

Partita No. 3

13.  Partita No. 3: I. Preludio. Allemanda 00:02:49 Rebuffa, Davide
14.  Partita No. 3: II. Corrente 00:01:29 Rebuffa, Davide
15.  Partita No. 3: III. Aria. Adagio 00:02:53 Rebuffa, Davide
16.  Partita No. 3: IV. Giga 00:01:40 Rebuffa, Davide
17.  Partita No. 3: V. Minuetto 00:01:14 Rebuffa, Davide

Partita No. 4

18.  Partita No. 4: I. Preludio. Allemanda (Arpeggio) 00:01:59 Rebuffa, Davide
19.  Partita No. 4: II. Corrente 00:01:23 Rebuffa, Davide
20.  Partita No. 4: III. Sarabanda 00:01:50 Rebuffa, Davide
21.  Partita No. 4: IV. Giga 00:01:27 Rebuffa, Davide

Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut

22.  Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut: I. Ouverture 00:02:29 Rebuffa, Davide
23.  Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut: II. Allemanda 00:01:43 Rebuffa, Davide
24.  Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut: III. Corrente 00:01:29 Rebuffa, Davide
25.  Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut: IV. Sarabanda 00:01:50 Rebuffa, Davide
26.  Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut: V. Giga 00:01:26 Rebuffa, Davide

Partita No. 6

27.  Partita No. 6: I. Fuga. Allemanda 00:02:01 Rebuffa, Davide
28.  Partita No. 6: II. Corrente 00:01:17 Rebuffa, Davide
29.  Partita No. 6: III. Aria. Adagio 00:02:50 Rebuffa, Davide
30.  Partita No. 6: IV. Giga 00:02:18 Rebuffa, Davide

Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut (version for mandolin

31.  Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut (Version for Mandolin 00:02:26 Rebuffa, Davide Turone, Rosanna
32.  Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut (Version for Mandolin 00:01:33 Rebuffa, Davide Turone, Rosanna
33.  Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut (Version for Mandolin 00:01:13 Rebuffa, Davide Turone, Rosanna
34.  Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut (Version for Mandolin 00:01:41 Rebuffa, Davide Turone, Rosanna
35.  Partita No. 5 in G sol re ut (Version for Mandolin 00:01:19 Rebuffa, Davide Turone, Rosanna

Composer Info

Petrus Hedus (1427-1504), Roberto Cascio, Marchetto Cara (1465-1525), Vincenzo Capirola (1474-1548), Josquin des Prez (1450-1521), Joan Ambroso Dalza (?-1508), Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725), Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643), Claudio Merulo (1533-1604), Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), Giovanni Battista Grillo (?-1622)

CD Info

Tactus CD TC 520003, Tactus CD TC 600006, Tactus CD TC 671901