MADRIGALS MINUS 1

Like all music of the period, madrigals were typically printed or copied in partbooks, not scores; thus, for example, five-voice madrigals were published as five-partbook sets. The vagaries and vicissitudes of their subsequent fate not infrequently led to sets being broken up and dispersed, and in some cases one or more partbooks were irretrievably lost, or at any rate no surviving copies can presently be located. Some of the more prominent instances of madrigal publications of which one partbook has not survived include Gastoldi's Terzo libro di madrigali a cinque of 1598 (missing the Alto); Massaino's Primo libro di madrigali a cinque of 1571 (missing the Basso); Croce's collection of Carnival pieces entitled Mascarate piacevoli e ridicolose of 1590 (lacking the Tenore) and Dalla Casa's Secondo libro di madrigali a cinque voci, con i passaggi, also of 1590 and also lacking the Tenore, this last of exceptional interest since it includes a number of madrigals with extensive written-out vocal ornamentation.

I claim no particular expertise in reconstructing missing parts, but when I have had the time to try my hand at it, I have found the exercise to be both challenging and rewarding, as well as a way of gaining greater insight into the music. It is also extremely gratifying to hear, or sing, the result. The few specimens provided here, which can be downloaded from the corresponding entries in the Master List of Composers, are offered in the hope that they will stimulate greater interest in this pursuit.

D'India, Sigismondo
Udite lagrimosi spirti d'Averno (SATTB) *NEW*
Many composers employed chromaticism and dissonance in setting Mirtillo's depths-of-despair lament (Pastor Fido III/vi), but D'India's extraordinary rendering pushes the envelope well beyond anything previously attempted -- and, indeed, not approached again until the late 19th century. The piece's remarkable harmonic excursions venture as far afield as b-sharp(!). Brian Mann has undertaken the challenging task of reconstructing the missing Alto, and has generously given permission to make his version available.
Dalla Casa, Girolamo
Dice la mia bellissima Licori (SSATB)
A rare example of an ornamented madrigal (the Tenore has been reconstructed). Dalla Casa was the author of a well-known treatise on the art of diminution. The text provided the model for Wilbye's "Thus saith my Cloris bright."
Se'l dolce bacio (SSATB)
Another unusual example of an ornamented madrigal (also with reconstructed Tenore)
Non più guerra, pietate (SATTB) *NEW*
Another ornamented madrigal, whose text is on the theme of love-as-combat (with a twist: the vanquished protagonist warns the victorious warrior-woman that she may come to regret her triumph). The Tenore has been reconstructed.
Gastoldi, Giovanni Giacomo
Pascon del vago e dilettoso aprile (SSATB)
A nice example of the pastoral madrigal, replete with shepherds and shepherdesses cavorting in the spring sunshine, amidst the birds and flowers. The Alto has been reconstructed.
Chi di veder procura (SS A/T TB)
The geographical references in the text seem to point to the town of Fano on the Adriatic, thus suggesting that the piece commemorates the elevation of Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini of Fano to the Papacy (as Clement VIII) in 1592. The Alto part has been reconstructed.
La mia donna bevea (prima parte of 2) (SSATB)
The protagonist is smitten by the sight of his beloved drinking chilled wine from a glass, however, his efforts to quench his passion backfire. The Alto has been reconstructed.
Io che per lei ardea (seconda parte) (SSATB)
M’è più dolce il penar (SSATB)
Mirtillo pledges his steadfast devotion to Amarilli, despite Corisca's provocative advances (Pastor Fido, III/vi). The Alto has been reconstructed.
O della notte bruna (SSATTB) *NEW*
An upbeat madrigal for six voices. The text is a somewhat enigmatic paean to moon-gazing, on the part of a moon-struck protagonist, with an intimation that some romantic nocturnal hanky-panky is forthcoming. The Alto has been reconstructed.
Marenzio, Luca
Donna bella e crudel (SS A/T TB)
Marenzio's earliest known madrigal, published in an anthology of 1577, three years in advance of his ground-breaking Primo libro a 5. The work displays considerable sophistication, as well as hints of developments to come. Only the Canto and Alto partbooks survive; James Chater has ably reconstructed the three missing parts and has obligingly made the piece available to this site.
Mezzogorri, Giovanni Nicolò
Cruda Amarilli (SSTTB+b.c.) *NEW*
Another setting of Mirtillo’s anguished opening speech (Pastor Fido, I/ii), by an early 17th-c. composer who was maestro di cappella at the Duomo of Comacchio, a small town east of Ferrara better known for its eel fishery than for its musical establishment. Nonetheless, the piece shows Mezzogorri to be a composer of some ability. No copy of the Canto partbook is known to be extant – various references to a copy in the Pogliaghi collection at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan are evidently in error – and the missing part is reconstructed here. Thanks are due to Grant Herreid for a number of helpful suggestions, which have been incorporated into the reconstruction.
Rossetti, Stefano
Fra quanti amor ("Lamento di Olimpia", prima parte of 17) (SATB) *NEW*
Ariosto's woeful tale of the abandoned heroine Olympia, recounted in Canto X of Orlando Furioso (first published in 1516), was inspired by classical archetypes. The story attracted the attention of many composers, including d’India, Monteverdi – although the attribution to him has been questioned – and Bononcini. Among the first in this long line, however, is Stefano Rossetti (or Rossetto), who published a setting for four, five and six voices in 1569. Its early date notwithstanding, Rossetti’s version is notably ambitious; he sets the complete text of Olympia’s lament (stanzas 19-34), prefaced by a setting of Canto X’s opening stanza – a full 17 sections in all. Appreciation of this work has been unfortunately limited by the fact that no copy of the original Alto partbook is known to survive. However, Prof. James Chater has recently undertaken a reconstruction of the missing parts of the entire work, soon to be published by A-R Editions, and has kindly furnished the accompanying transcription of the opening section. He would welcome comments on the piece.

 

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