Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Canzonette a Tre Voci (1584)
rec. Chiesa di S. Vitale, Assisi, Italy, March-April 2014 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95348 [71:53]
Whilst I am fairly familiar with the madrigals, Monteverdi’s Canzonette are pretty much new to me. Yes, I know the ones included in the posthumous publication of his ninth book of madrigals, but these pieces, composed when he was still a teenager, were unexplored territory.
The Canzonette date from 1584, some three years before the first book of madrigals, and are traditionally seen as being lighter in texture. They are secular songs based upon popular texts and pastoral themes with tales of love being the most common. Usually, as here, composed for three voices and various accompanying instruments, they came to popularity around 1560. The first was published by Giovanni Ferretti (c. 1540-1609) in 1567. They are seen as having an important role in the development of the madrigal, a form Monteverdi would go on to perfect.
The canzonetta, by its very nature, is less varied and dramatic than the madrigal, and this is borne out here when compared to Monteverdi’s later masterpieces. They are however still interesting and musically charming. The singers are supported here by recorders, viola da gamba, theorbo, guitar and harpsichord. It is not just a case of a ground bass, as they also introduce the Canzonette and at times carry the tune, making for enjoyable listening. Sadly, a visit to the Brilliant webpage in search of texts and translations is a let-down. Only the original sung text is available, something that hampers the listener's understanding of this music.
On the whole these Canzonette are sung well. There are however moments when I wished that the voices were a little more secure, but this was only on the rare occasion. The overall effect of the interplay between the voices is good. The sound is helped by the pleasing acoustic of a sixteenth century church with the effect being quite agreeable. The brief booklet notes are helpful, but as mentioned above, translations of the texts would have been welcome.
Contents Qual si può dir maggiore, SV 1 [3:28]
Canzonette d'amore, SV 2 [2:50] La fiera vista e'l velenoso sguardo, SV 3
[4:23] Raggi, dov'è il mio bene?, SV 4 [4:30] Vita de l'alma mia, cara mia
vita, SV 5 [4:36] Il mio martir tengo celat'al cuore, SV 6 [5:22] Son
questi i crespi crini e questo il viso, SV 7 [3:27] Io mi vivea com'aquila
mirando, SV 8 [3:01] Su, su, ch'l giorno è fore, SV 9 [4:03] Quando sperai
del mio servir mercede, SV 10 [2:47] Come farò, cuor mio, quando mi parto,
SV 11 [2:51] Corse a la morte il povero Narciso, SV 12 [3:04] Tu ridi
sempre mai, SV 13 [1:05] Chi vuol veder d'inverno un dolce aprile, SV 14
[2:59] Già mi credev'un sol esser in cielo, SV 15 [2:18] Godi pur del bel
sen, felice pulce, SV 16 [2:23] Giú lí a quel petto giace un bel giardino,
SV 17 [4:03] Sí come crescon alla terra i fiori, SV 18 [2:10] Io son
fenice e voi sete la fiamma, SV 19 [5:10] Chi vuol veder un bosco folto e
spesso, SV 20 [4:05] Hor, care canzonette, SV 21 [2:27]
Founding Editor Rob Barnett Senior Editor
John Quinn Seen & Heard Editor Emeritus Bill Kenny Editor in Chief
Vacant MusicWeb Webmaster
David Barker MusicWeb Founder Len Mullenger