Friday, February 26, 2010

Here's the program for Saturday's concert. Neil our bass has been very ill and Kevin has been delayed by the flight gods, so things may change after today's rehearsal and run-through. Bios and location of the hall are on the website

Phillipe Verdelot (1480 to 1485-c.1530 to 1532?)
Quanto sia liet’il giorno
Madonna, il tuo bel viso
Vita de la vita mia vita
Fuggi, fuggi, cor mio

Pietro Paolo Borrono (c.1490-after 1563)
Fantasia, Pavana Nova, Saltarello

Jacques Arcadelt (?1507-1568)
Il Bianco e dolce cigno
Che più foco
Che più foco (intabulated by Valentin Bakfark c.1526-1576)
Quando col dolce sono

Cipriano de Rore (1515/16-1565)
Ancor che col partire
Toccata (Francesco da Milano 1497-1543)
Ancor che col partire (intabulated by Giovanni Paolo Paladino d. before 1565)
Non gemme, non fin’oro
Non gemme, non fin’oro (Ornaments by Bassano)
Signor mio caro/Charità di signore


O dolce nocte

Adriano Willaert (c.1490-1562)
Vecchie letrose
Signora dolce

Francesco da Milano

Qual anima ignorante

Giovanni Maria da Crema (fl 1540-50)
Ricercare Sesto, Quanto sia liet’il giolrno, Passamezzo and Saltarello Lovetta

Orlando di Lasso (1532-94)
Tutto lo dì mi dici
Madonna mia pietà

It seems strange to us that as it emerged at in the first half of the 16th century, most of the leading composers of the ‘Italian’ madrigal were French and Burgundian. Composers of that land moved to Italy largely as composers of church music. While Italians appear to have been occupied with Arie di cantare improvised to the lute the immigrants got to work producing the polyphonic partsongs you hear tonight.

Phillipe Verdelot ‘franzese musico eccellentissimo’ as one contemporary called him, settled in Florence in 1521, and would have known Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote the texts of O dolce nocte. He also set poems by Michelangelo. When his patron, Giulio de’ Medici became Pope Clement VII Verdelot travelled with him to Rome, but was soon back in Florence. There is no music from him after 1530, so he may have died in an imperial siege of that city in that year.
Cosimo Bartoli, a Florentine diplomat said that Arcadelt ‘followed in the footsteps of Verdelot’. Whether he meant musically or literally is not clear, since his place of birth is not known; he may have been French despite his Burgundian name, but certainly spent time in Florence and Rome. As well as sacred music he published several books of madrigals and composed commissioned music to texts of the Florentine literati. His most famous madrigal today, Il dolce e bianco cigno, seems not to have been as popular in his own day. Orlando Gibbons’ The Silver Swan, on a translation of Il dolce e bianco cigno, seems to have boosted the madrigal’s popularity in the English speaking world.

There are few pieces of music that were as popular as de Rore’s Ancor che col partir, though. Arrangements for nearly every medium possible in the 16th century, from lute to viola bastarda and beyond, are extant. As well as a lightly ornamented lute version of that madrigal, we present a heavily decorated version of another of his madrigals. Most often these versions are instrumental but occasionally are texted. De Rore, from the Southern Netherlands, initiated many of the chromaticisms and crunchy harmonies exploited by the later generations of Italian madrigalists like Luca Marenzio. De Rore worked at the Este court in Ferrara, which later employed Claudio Monteverdi.

De Rore may have been a student of Adriano Willaert. Willaert also worked for the Este family and preceded Monteverdi as maestro di capella at St. Mark’s in Venice. This city was the music publishing capital of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and Willaert arranged the lower voices of the Verdelot madrigals for lute, as heard this evening. His student Caimo extolled the perfection of his composition in a letter: ‘your music, my dearest friend, has been distilled in seven alembics, purified in nine waters and refined in four flames, as is proper to the aurum potabile’.

Orlando di Lasso, or Roland Lassus was born in Mons in what is today Belgium. During his lifetime the typical madrigal gained a voice, being composed for five voices rather than our four, and the genre split into lighter canzonettes and more serious works. We present a couple of his Neapolitan style madrigals.

Lutenists provide the Italian names on our program. We present some dances as well as arrangements of some of the madrigals and fantasias or ricercars. Francesco da Milano, like Verdelot, a servant of Giulio de’ Medici, was recognised as the leading lutenist of the 16th centuries by his contemporaries, who called him ‘il divino’. Paladino’s lutebook was published in Italian lute tablature in Lyons. Crema may have been in a musical embassy to the English court of Henry VIII. Borrono appears not to have been a professional musician, but to have been a real ambassador, and possibly involved, for his home town of Milan, in a plot to assassinate Cardinal Alessandro Farnese; at least the Cardinal thought so. By comparison, the career of the peripatetic Valentin Bakfark, who travelled from what is now Romania, to be lutenist to the Kings of Poland and Hungary, who published in Lyons and who travelled through Italy enough to leave much music in manuscripts there, seems positively dull.

Quanto sia liet’il giorno
How happy is the day
In which ancient things
Are shown forth and celebrated by you!
We see all around
Troops of friends are assembled here:
We who in our lifetime
In woods and thickets live out, Are also come,
I, a nymph, and these shepherds,
And we go singing together with our loves.

Madonna, il tuo bel viso
My lady, your fair face
Which is my leader and guide on the great sea of Love,
Now revives my hope, and now slays it,
And whenever it sees therein fair weather,
It spreads its sails to the wind
Without fear of reefs or storms:
But if the light fails on its path,
Filled with terror,
It lowers the sails of its bark,
In the light of your flickering star
It drifts hither and thither on the treacherous waves,
And fears and hopes and never sees the port.

Vita, de la mia vita
Life of my life,
What great wrong you do in thinking that I
Have ever forgotten for anyone’s sake
That fire which Love kindled in my bosom!
Alas! For so many years it has been of such violence and of such strength,
That my greater misfortune,
Neither for absence, nor for suffering,
Did it issue from my heart,
But rather the desire of you grew ever more.

Fuggi, fuggi, cor mio
Flee, flee my heart,
Ungrateful, cruel love!
For it is too great an error
To make a blind boy so great a god.
Realize the wasted time,
For a feigning woman one is loaded with deceit!
Go forth from slavery, from labors!
Be no more overwhelmed
By jealousy, suspicion, humiliation and plaints!
For the destiny of blind lovers
Is to repent in vain and end in grief,
Since it is too great an error
To make a blind boy so great a god.

Il Bianco e dolce cigno
The white and sweet swan dies singing, and I, 

weeping, reach the end of my life.

Strange and different fate, that he dies disconsolate and I die a blessed death,

which in dying fills me
full of joy and desire.

If in dying, were I to feel no other pain,

I would be content to die a thousand deaths a day.

Che piu foc’ al mio foco,
What is more fire to my fire,
Or flames in my heart,
Lady, if I live in fire.
So of my passion
you take so little heed,
Alas poor is your honor,
to see in you the death, the life,
of your faithful lover.
O lights of your eyes high and holy,
Why do you not give help,
It is not that fire in you that burns and inflames,
Why then other fire, or other flames.

Quando col dolce suono
When with sweet sound
the sweet words tune themselves,
that come forth from between white pearls and beautiful rubies,
Marvelling I say: How I have
arrived in heaven, that so near the sun
I look admiringly, and I hear tones high and divine.
O wandering spirits,
If you heard Pulisena (the singer Pulisena Peccorina)
you would say you heard a twofold siren.
I who have seen her swear to you that she
is more than the sun, bright and beautiful.

Ancor che col partire
Since when I part from you
it is a kind of dying,
I would be glad to leave you every hour, every moment,
so great is my joy
as life comes flooding back to me on my return:
and so a thousand times a day
I would that I could part from you:
for so my heart leaps when we are reunited.
Non gemme, non fin’oro
Not gems, not fine gold, Nor the work of cloth
made with wondrous art and skill,
but that which is above all else,
the keen reasoning, the gestures and the manners,
are those bright lights,
that make you bright, and you shine so much
that you seem to give splendour to the gems.

Signor mio caro/Charità di signore
My dear Lord, every thought draws me
devotedly to see you whom I always see;
My fortune (what can it do to me that is worse?)
holds me reined in, and turns and wheels me about.
Then that sweet desire, that love inspires in me,
leads me to death, that I am not aware of it;
And while I call to my two lights in vain,
wherever I am, day and night there is sighing.
Devotion to my Lord, love of my lady
are the chains by which with many labours
I am bound, because I myself bound myself.
A green laurel, a noble Column (pun on the name Colonna),
fifteen years the one and eighteen the other
I have carried in my breast, and from which I have never separated.

O dolce nocte
Oh sweet night, oh holy
hours, nocturnal and tranquil,
that accompany desiring lovers;
In you are summoned so many
happy joys, you are
alone the reason for making souls blessed,
You, the just prizes award
to the loving crowds, to your friends,
For their long labours;
You make, oh happy hours,
every frozen heart burn with love.

Vecchie letrose
Spiteful old hags, you are good for nothing,
Only for lying in wait in the thicket.
Beat, beat, beat with your canes,
Spiteful old hags, murderous and mad!

Signora dolce
Sweet lady, I would like to speak with you secretly,
and tell you the intention of my heart,
which burns to serve you by day, and then by night.

Qual anima ignorante
What soul ignorant or wiser,
What mortal man, what god, what woman or goddess
That does not know from whence my woe derives
And for my great ardour has no pity?
What woods so hidden or so wild,
What laurel growing in the air or what olive tree
That does not know from whence my woe derives
And for my great ardour has no pity?
What part of the world today is not
Full of tears and of laments,
Of voices, sighs, and my griefs?
Not a thing now lies beneath the path
Of heaven that does not know my torment
But she alone whom I alone desire.

Tutto lo di
All day long you say: sing!
Don't you see I am out of breath?
Why all this singing?
I wish you would say to me:
Not the church bell for Nones

But your very own cymbal.
O, if I can, ding-a-ling,

I'd like to get you under me.

Madonna mia pietà
My lady, I beg you for mercy and help,
For unjustly I suffer and die,
And with your consent.

I cry out, but you hear not:

'Water, my lady! Fire!'

For I feel my life slipping away.

Your lofty beauty, infinite, unique,
Is the cause of my burning,
and with your consent,
 I cry out... etc. 

Now my troubled life is fading

And you believe me not,
though you see it with your own eyes.

I cry out... etc.

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