Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hallie and I were at Rogers recording some video yesterday morning. The security to get in there is like Fort Knox. There was pizza and chicken wings in the green room. I meant to take pictures but I had chicken wing sauce on my fingers.

We played a movement from the Vivaldi cantata. I'll post that when I get a link, but in the meantime here is a link to Jorge, Hallie and me on Classical 96. Stream videos at Ustream

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Today is St. Lucy's Day. Before they adjusted the calendar it was the shortest day. Here is a John Donne poem about it. It's thought that poem is for Lucy, Countess of Bedford. She, pictured here by Isaac Oliver, was patron of Donne and John Danyel and was the dedicatee of John Dowland's Second Book of Songs. Here's a link to download an mp3 of the greatest hit from that book Flow my teares. This song started out as a lute pavan (a kind of slow dance), then was in this song version, the was the basis of seven pavans in Lachrimae or Seaven Teares. Other composers would quote it when mentioning tears or melancholy for about a hundred years.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Did I say today was Caccini's birthday? I meant burial day, in 1618. He published a book called Le nuove musiche (The New Music) in 1602, so that's the date that the Baroque started on. (I think it's July 12th at 4:20 in the afternoon). Anyway, if you have a book printed your repertoire gets looked at more by scholars and then gets thought of as the happenin' music of its time, though old Cosimo Bottegari didn't think he needed much in his gigbook.

Caccini and the other early Baroque composers were imitating the Ancient Greeks, who they knew declaimed their music in the rhythm of speech.

Here's the link to Hallie and me singing Caccini's greatest hit. Amarilli. The translation is:

Amarilli, my fair,
do you not believe you are my love, heart's desire?
Believe it and if doubt assails you,
take my arrow open my breast,
and you will find written on my heart:
Amarilli is my love.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Today is the birthday (or at least the baptism day) of Orazio Vecchi (1550-1605). He is best known as a writer of madrigal comedies. The piece you can download here is from his Selva di varia ricreatione (1590) where it is an 'Aria a 4' with a lute tablature reduction of the parts. The live recording of us is from the Bottegari Lute Song Book where it's for one voice and lute (there's a few little differences in the lute part). Cosimo Bottegari worked for Grand Dukes Cosimo and Ferdinando dei Medici of Tuscany. His manuscript lute song book has only one song by Giulio Caccini in it, though he was working for Ferdinand at the same time. To read music history books you'd have the impression that Caccini and his co-proto-baroquist Jacopo Peri quite cleared the ground of madrigals etc. with their New Music, but the workaday songbook of Bottegari seems to give the lie to that. Maybe the avant-gardists were only brought out to impress the visitors. Anyway, it's Caccini's birthday in a few days, so more about him then.

Vecchi's Selva has a 10 voice dialogue between Happiness and Melancholy that would be nice to do some time; maybe contrasting with the Duke of Melancholy, Don Gesualdo. If you like So ben, send large bills to the address on the MIO site to support that project.

You can follow along with the words on the page from Vecchi's book pictured.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

MIO activities from the last few days have included some more music choosing. Though the blurb for the concert says I'll be playing archlute and theorbo on this show I was reading about a manuscript of guitar music that appears to have been written for the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I himself. This handsome guy is pictured here in a sculpture by a Matthias Steinl in the last years of the 17th century. I don't think the Habsburg chin is helped very much by the soul patch style beard. Or is it a mole?

Anyway, despite, or maybe because of the lack of genetic variety in Leo's family tree, he was a pretty talented musician. The music in the manuscript is probably by Orazio Clementi, who was theorbo player at the Imperial court.

When Clementi was getting on in years they hired Francesco Conti to help out with the duties. As noted in a post below, his music is hard to find, despite him being a 'very important historical figure'®. There is a cantata by him in a manuscript in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The music manuscripts from the Bodleian are all available on microfilm so I got them to dig the right one out of the boxes in the back of the Faculty of Music library at UofT and printed it out. So we will (perhaps) be giving this Conti cantata its North American premiere on New Year's Day.