Saturday, May 2, 2015

In Stile Moderno

May. 2, 2015, 8PM
Heliconian Hall, Toronto
In Stile Moderno
Lamento d’Arianna                     Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) with
Sonata decima sopra l’aria Romanesca   Salamone Rossi (ca. 1570-1630)
Quel sguardo sdegnosetto          Monteverdi
Ohimè se tanto amate               Rossi
Sonata sopra l’aria di Ruggiero   Rossi
Parlo, misero, o tacio?                Rossi
Maladetto s'ia l'aspetto                Monteverdi
L’Amata Aurelia                       Andrea Falconieri (ca.1585-1656)
La Desiderata
La Bella Marchesetta

Ed è pur dunque vero                Monteverdi
Sonata prima detta La Moderna  Rossi
Gagliarda settima detta L’Herba
Correnta settima
Brando secondo
Brando terzo
Anima del cor mio            Rossi
Si dolce e’l tormento           Monteverdi
Sonata in dialogo detta La Viena  Rossi
Tirsi mio, caro Tirsi              Rossi
Sonata duodecima sopra la Bergamasca   Rossi
Eri già tutta mia                   Monteverdi with

Program Notes

It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of the Mantuan court as a centre of innovation in the Renaissance and Baroque eras. It may be the place where the violin was invented; Isabella d’Este, Marchesa of Mantua in the early 1500s, wanted Apollo’s stringed instruments, rather than Pan’s winds, to accompany her dancing. She was also a great patron of Italian solo lute song, as opposed to the four or five part madrigal, the early composers of which were often Netherlandish.

It’s hard to tell, though, whether her great-grandson Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga, was more interested in music or lady singers. Vincenzo chased the famous singer Adriana Basile from one end of Italy to the other. There still exist books of poetry which were Basile’s, with guitar chord symbols, but no melody, providing, thus, a tantalizing glimpse of her repertoire. Perhaps the songs we present by Monteverdi this evening were sung by her, though some are from later sources. The excerpt from Si dolce e’l tormento below shows guitar chord symbols of the type found in her books above the staff, and a figured bass part for the theorbo, or chitarrone as it was sometimes called, or spinet.
But most publications of vocal music in Italy around 1600 were madrigals, usually for five voices. In 1600 Rossi published his Primo Libro which, it says on the title page, offers ‘madrigals for singing with the chitarrone, with its tablature opposite the soprano.’ The very dense chitarrone part is not much like the parts that could be improvised from the basses of, say, Caccini’s ‘new music’, published a year later, but instead resemble the keyboard accompaniments Luzzaschi provides in his music for the Concerto delle donne, the three virtuose employed at Ferrara.

The musical world was turning, then, from a five part texture to one of one or two or three high voices supported by a chitarrone or other chordal bass instrument. Rossi innovates again in instrumental music, publishing, in 1607, his Il primo libro delle sinfonie e gagliarde a tre, quatro, & a cinque voci for ‘two violins (he actually says ‘viole’ but the music is in violin range) or two cornetti, and a chitarrone or other chordal instrument’. Even the 5-part dances, though, are marked ‘for 5, or for 3 if you please’ in case you want to leave out the two violas.

The dance floor had been the violin’s main haunt for most of the 16th century and indeed, even before the violin’s development, Gugliemo Hebreo della Viola had been Isabella d’Este’s dance master. Though you will hear some of Rossi’s dance music, you will also hear, especially in the sonatas Moderna and Viena, the violin being emancipated from the dance. The sonata for two violins and a bass has, through Corelli to Handel and beyond its antecedents in Rossi’s books.

Like Isabella’s dance master Gugliemo, Rossi, too, was Jewish. He went for many years without a pay raise at the ducal court and it has been suggested this might have been prejudice at work. He seems to have been from a fairly successful merchant family, though, and used his court connections to obtain licenses and patronage for his family’s business. So perhaps he didn’t need the money. His sister, ‘Madama Europa’ as she was known, didn’t encounter any obstacles in her spectacular career as a court and early opera singer. Rossi is last heard of in Venice in 1628, putting a publication through the presses. It’s unknown if he stayed on quietly in Venice, went back to Mantua and died in 1630 in the destruction of the Jewish ghetto when Imperial troops invaded, or in the plague that ensued.

Monteverdi published his Quinto Libro di Madrigali in 1605, and some of the madrigals therein have a continuo part which allows two high voices to come out of the texture in the new baroque style. Perhaps he was following Rossi’s lead of publishing madrigals with some accompaniments. In 1608 Monteverdi’s opera L’Arianna was performed for Duke Vincenzo’s wedding. Only the Lamento has survived. We know the original was punctuated by a chorus of fishermen, but we have interpolated Rossi’s variations on the Romanesca bass as a ritornello, as might have been done in the early 17th century.

Falconieri was fed up with his lute job at Parma. After trousering his pre-paycheque in 1614, he seems to have run away to Mantua; a letter from the composer to the Duke specifies who is to sing some enclosed duets. A book of his instrumental music was published in Naples in 1650. Among the mostly Spanish titles (Naples was then a Spanish kingdom) are some Italian ones which have the more old fashioned two violins and continuo scoring, without a separate bass part. 

Lamento d’Arianna - Rinuccini
Let me die, Let me die!
Whom would you wish to comfort me
In such a hard fate,
In such a great suffering?
Let me die!

O Theseus, my Theseus!
For I want to call on you, since you are mine.
Though, alas, cruel man, you flee from my sight.
Turn back my Theseus,
Oh God, turn back and look once more upon her
Who abandoned her country and her kingdom for your sake.
And who now on these shores,
A prey to pitiless wild beasts,
Will leave her bare bones!
O Theseus, my Theseus!
If you knew, Oh God, alas the torment
Of miserable Ariadne, Perhaps, in remorse,
Even now you would turn back your prow  to shore.
But with gentle breezes you go happily on,
While I remain, weeping,
Athens prepares you greet you with joyful festivities,
While I remain, weeping, a prey to the wild beats of these lonely shores.
Both your aged parents will embrace you with joy
But I will see you no more, O mother, O  my father.

Where, where is the faith you so often swore to me?
Is this how you restore me to my ancestor’s ancient throne?
Are these the crowns with which you adorn my hair?
Are these the sceptres, are these the jewels and the gold?
To leave me  abandoned,
To be torn by and devoured by wild beasts?
Ah, Theseus, O my Theseus,
Will you leave me to die and weep in vain crying for help,
Poor wretched Ariadne, who gave you her trust, glory and life?

Oh! you don’t even reply!
To my lament his ears are as deaf as a serpent’s!
O, storms, O hurricanes, O Gales
Push him down beneath the waves!
Hurry sea-monsters and whales
Fill the bottomless deep with his foul limbs.
What am I saying? Why an I raving?
Alas! Wretch that I am, what do I want?
O Theseus, O my Theseus,
It was not I who uttered those savage words.
My grief spoke, my anguish spoke,
My tongue spoke, yes, but not my heart.

Unhappy woman, I still give way
To my betrayed hope, and still
After so much scorn, the fires of love are not quenched!
O death, now extinguish the worthless flames!
O mother, O father, O proud homes of the ancient kingdom where my golden cradle rested.
O servants, O faithful friends (Ah unworthy fate)
See where wicked fate has led me.
See the grief I have inherited from my love, my trust and his deceit.
One who loves too well and trusts too much such a fate endures.
Don't worry. There was a happy ending. 
Quel sguardo sdegnosetto
That scornful little glance
gleaming and threatening –
that poisonous dart -
Shoots out and strikes my heart.
Charms that have set me on fire,
and have divided me.
Wound me with a glance
Heal me with laughter!

Eyes be armed
with roughest rigor
pour on my heart
a cloudburst of sparks!
But let not the lips be late
in reviving my corpse;
let that glance wound me
but that laughter heal me.

To arms sweet eyes!
I prepare my breast for you:
take joy in wounding me
until I faint.
For if by your darts
I remain conquered,
Wound me with those glances!
But heal me with  that laughter.

Ohimè se tanto – Guarini
Alas, if you love so much
To hear me say ‘alas!’ then why do you make
Him who says ‘alas!’ die?
If I die, you’ll only hear
A single languid and sorrowful ‘alas!’
But if you want my heart,
For me to have life from you and you from me,
You’ll have sweet ‘alasses’ by the thousand.

Parlo misero – Guarini
Poor me! Should I speak or keep silent?
If I keep silent, what relief will my dying have?
If I speak, what pardon will my burning have?
Keep silent, for, at times, a closed flame
Is well understood by the one who ignites it.
Pity speaks in me,
Beauty speaks in her;
And that beautiful face says to the cruel heart:
‘Who can behold me and not languish from love?’

Anima del cor mio
Soul of my heart,
Now that you’re leaving me, wretched woman that I am,
If you allow me some relief from my suffering,
Don’t prevent me at least from following you
With my sighs only,
If only to remember you,
For in so much pain and in such burning anguish
Will I live from love, as an example of true faith.

Tirsi mio – Guarini
My Tirsi, dear Tirsi,
Are you deserting me again?
Thus you leave me to my death? Won’t you help me?
Don’t refuse me, at least, some last kisses.
One sword alone will, indeed, wound two hearts;
The wound of your Phyllis
Will, indeed, shed your blood.
Tirsi, at one time a name so sweet and dear
That I used never to appeal to it in vain,
Assist me, your Phyllis,
For, as you see, by ruthless fate
Am I led to a cruel and wicked death.

Maledetto s’ia l’aspetto
Cursed be the looks
that have set my heart on fire.
Alas! unhappy me, for I suffer
cruel torment and will surely die,
nor can any but you ease my suffering.
Cursed be the looks
that have set my heart on fire.

Cursed be the arrow
that has wounded me, of which I'll die.
She wills it so,  my sun,
she wills it,  who despises me with all her might.
What shall I do?
Cursed be the arrow
that has wounded me, of which I'll die.

The pitiless lady, death to me,
who dealt this blow would have it so.
She makes light of my ardour,
wishes me to suffer pain and death.
Here I'll die this grievous day.
The pitiless lady, death to me,
who dealt this blow would have it so.

Ed è pur dunque vero
Then is it true indeed,
Inhuman heart, cruel soul,
That in changing your mind
You have become devoid of both faith and love.
You may well boast of having betrayed me,
For I turn my kithara to weeping.

Is this the reward
For all my loving labours?
Thus I am confirmed in
You malevolent destiny, hostile stars.
But if your heart refuses all constancy,
Lydia, the fault is yours, and not the stars’.

In my misfortune, I shall drink of
My morbid, turgid tears,
And, ever grief-stricken,
To all other forsaken lovers
And to my constancy, I will sculpt in marble:
‘Foolish is the heart that believes in a beautiful woman.’

Poor in comforts,
Begging for hope, I will go wandering:
With nothing to burden me, nor any home.
Amid tempests I will live sad and solitary.
I will not need to avoid death from precipices,
For he cannot die who cannot live.

The number of years
When I was snow to the sun of your beauty,
Those heights of anguish
Which never gave me the slightest repose,
Have taught the winds to murmur
Your perfidies, O cruel one, and my torments.

Live, live with your heart of ice,
And let your inconstancy mistrust the breezes,
Clasp, clasp your love in your arms,
And rejoice with him at my misery, and laugh:
And both of you, in sweet and pleasant union,
Build the sepulchre of my life.

Abysses, abysses, hear, hear,
The final words of my despair,
Now that all is gone,
My joys and love and my pleasures.
So great is my misfortune that I can say
My grief can rival hell.

Si dolce e’il tormento
So sweet is the torment
that lies in my heart,
that I live happily
because of its cruel beauty.
May beauty's fury
grow wide in the sky
without compassion;
for my devotion shall hold
like a rock against
pride's unrelenting wave.

False hope,
keep me wandering!
let no peace
nor pleasure befall me!
Evil woman, whom I adore,
deny me the rest
that compassion would give;
amidst infinite pain,
amidst broken hopes
shall survive my devotion.

There is no rest for me
in the warmth or the cold.
Only in heaven
shall I find rest.
If the deadly strike
of an arrow injured my heart,
I shall heal still,
and change my destiny,
death's very heart
with the same arrow.

If the frigid heart
that stole mine
never has felt
love's ardour;
if the cruel beauty
that charmed my soul
denies me compassion,
may she die one day
by me pained,
repenting, languishing.

Eri gia tutta mia
Once you were all mine
This soul and this heart
What new bonds of love
turn you away from me?
O beauty, o valour
O miraculous constancy
Where are you now?
Once you were all mine
Now you are no longer,
Ah, you are no longer mine.

These fair eyes only to me
once were turned smiling,
For me these golden tresses
Unfurled in the wind.
O fleeting joys,
O steadfast heart, where are you?
Once you were all mine …

The joys of my face,
Alas, you no longer look upon.
My song and my smile
Have changed into torments.
O despondent sighs,
O vanished compassion,
Where are you now?
Once you were all mine …


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