Recording Date and Place : en Junio y Noviembre 1981, Marzo 1997 y Diciembre 1999
Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654) : Pavan - Galliard Battaglia
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) : Lamento d'Arianna
Giovanni Gabrieli (v.1554-1612) : Canzon III a 6
Bastiano Chilese (actif 1608) : Canzon in Echo a 8
Jacopo Peri (1561-1633) : Lamento di Iole
Luigi Rossi (v.1598-1653) : Fantasia "Les pleurs d'Orphee"
Nicolo Fontei (v.1600-ca.1647) : Pianto d'Erinna
Anonyme : Sarabande Italienne
Giuseppe Guami (1542-1611/12) : Canzon sopra la Battaglia a 4
Barbara Strozzi (1619-1664) : Il Lamento "Su'l Rodano severo"
Andrea Falconiero (v.1585-1656) : Battaglia de Barabasso yerno de Satanas
Battaglia and lamento are two genres which cover the whole range of musical expression in both the vocal and the instrumental music of the 17th century. These two distinct musical forms are nevertheless similar in content, in that they both bring historical events back to life.
The battaglia had its origins at the beginning of the 16th century, but Italy rapidly became the ideal place for this musical form to flourish, since the country was the favourite battleground between France and the Habsburgs. As reflections of scenes from life, the musical means used in these compositions reproduce the experience of reality: trumpet fanfares, drums, the clashing of swords, battle-cries, vivid rhythms, repeated notes, pipes, etc., as for example in Giuseppe Guami's Canzon sopra la Battaglia or Samuel Scheidt's Pavan & Galliard Battaglie. They were very popular in Venice at the beginning of the 17th century, and St Mark's was the ideal place for them to be performed (Canzon in Echo, by Bastiano Chilese and Canzon III a 6 by Giovanni Gabrieli).
At the same time, the musical genre of the lamento was founded in 1608 by Claudio Monteverdi with the passionate lament of Arianna, a model imitated by numerous composers, notably Jacopo Peri whose Lamento di Iole is the only surviving fragment of a missing projected opera. Whether written as stage or chamber music, the lamento was the reflection of the inner anguish of a human being. They can be traced to various causes: the death of a sovereign, separation from a loved one, defeat or pain suffered under foreign domination, etc. The lamento, therefore, is like the battaglia in that both forms are linked to political events (as, for example, Nicolo Fontei's Pianto d'Erinna or Barbara Strozzi's Lamento).
With an almost exclusively Italian programme, this CD is constructed like a dramatic work around four central lamenti. Preceded by battaglie, they show the clear link that exists between the two musical genres. Recorded during the 1980s, (most of them for the first time on CD), these lamenti retain all their original freshness and form a perfect combination with these recently recorded Battaglie, thanks to their very similar sound-takes. Finally, and most importantly, Montserrat Figueras shows extraordinary spontaneity, infusing each of these pieces with its own individual emotion, thanks to an almost theatrical use of her voice.
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Battaglia and lamcnto are two genres which cover the whole range of musical expression, in both the vocal and the instrumental music of the 17th centurv: on the one hand, the din of battle, the imitation of an army of soldiers spurred on during combat by the sound of trumpet fanfares and the rhythm of drums; on the other hand, the personal anguish of a human being trapped in a hopeless situation. However, although the origins of the battaglia can be traced to the beginning of the 16th century, the earliest lamenti we find were composed before the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries. In fact, it was in 1528 that Clement Janequin set the model for future musical battaglie with his chanson La guerre. This sound-picture of the battle of Marignano in 1515. at which the French reconcpiered the Milanese from the Habsburgs, went through countless instrumental arrangements until the end of the 17th centurv. The key to this battaglia's popularity was its very specific background. Music, especially the various forms of popular music, has always mirrored historical reality and particularly in the case of Italy, it also acted as a safety valve in the face of the oppressive political situation that this once proud nation was forced to endure for centuries. From 1494. the time of the earliest expeditions led by the kings of France against Italy, when first Napes and then the Milanese were taken, Italy became the plaything, the booty and the battlefield disputed by France and the Habsburgs. Thus, the popularity of the battaglia at that particular time reveals a vivid confrontation between art and the reality that surrounded it. The musical means of the battaglia render the immediacy of experience; imitation of trumpet fanfares, clashing swords, battle-cries, melodies on perfect chords, rapid repetition of notes, lively rhythms, the droning of pipes and uniform harmonies - all features that are to be found in Canzon sopra la Battaglia by Giuseppe Cuami and in Pavan & Galliard Battaglia by Samuel Scheidt, or in Battaglia de Barabasso yerno de Satanas by Andrea Falconieri. It is not surprising that the battaglia should have been so popular in Venice at the beginning of the 17th century, given the acoustic possibilities afforded by St Mark's cathedral, where all kinds of musical productions, such as Bastiano Chilese's Canzon in Echo and Giovanni Gabrieli's Canzon III a 6, were fashionable.
Unlike the battaglia, which was a musical reflection of external events, the lamento gave musical form to inner human anguish. Nevertheless, the lamento does share some features in common with the battaglia because, like the latter, it was an art form shaped out of historical events. As early as the 14th and 15th centuries, there were laments in which individuals, cities and even entire nations deplored certain political events: the fall of Constantinople, the death of a sovereign, the defeat of a general or oppression by some foreign power. The musical genre of the lamento was founded by Claudio Monteverdi with his impassioned Arianna's lament, the masterpiece from his opera L'Arianna, created in 1608. Abandoned by Theseus on a desert island, and as yet unaware that the god Bacchus will soon come to deliver her, Arianna cries out in despair in the form of a highly expressive recitative of such emotional intensity that it reduced the audience to tears. Moving from desperate resignation to bitter reproaches, Arianna's lament mounts to an almost hysterical frenzv, in which she invokes all the terrors of the sea, winds and tides, sharks and whales, to help avenge her, before finally sinking back into her earlier resignation. Numerous composers were to imitate this musical model during the decades following the creation of Arianna. One such composer was Jacopo Peri, whose Lamento di Iole of 1628, the only surviving fragment of a planned opera which was swallowed up in the jungle of intrigue at the Florentine court, belongs to this tradition and bears a strong resemblance to Monteverdi's Lamento d'Arianna, not only in musical terms but also in its subject matter: lole, the daughter of King Eurytus, cries out to Hercules, who has abandoned her. Indeed, Monteverdi was the founder of another tradition of lament, which began in 1638 with Lamento della Ninfa from his Eighth Book of madrigals. In this lamento, conceived not as music for the stage, but as chamber music, the lament of the abandoned nymph occurs within a musically independent narrative frame and is constructed on a four-note descending ostinato. This four-note basso ostinato rapidly became a permanent musical characteristic of the lament, both in its pure diatonic form and in its numerous chromatic variations, as in the examples of the Crucifixus in J. S. Bach's B minor Mass, and the opening of the scherzo of Franz Schubert's D minor string quartet. Death and the Maiden. Similarly. Nicolo Fontei's Pianto d'Erinna composed in 1639 for Barbara Strozzi, is built around a chromatic derivation of this four-note basso. Barbara Strozzi, the natural child of the poet Giulio Strozzi, who was himself a close associate of Monteverdi, enjoyed great popularity not only as a singer, but also as a notable composer. Her Lamento. of which the middle section was also composed on a variant of the four-note basso, was inspired, like so many chamber lamenti of the mid-17th century. in the tradition of the political lament. It is the lament of Henri Cinq-Mars, the favourite of King Louis XIII. who was first protected and then cast aside by Cardinal de Richelieu. After secretly plotting with Spain. Cinq-Mars was executed in Lyon in 1642. The lament is not composed in direct speech but rather emanates from an oneiric character born of the imagination of the despairing king, who had loved the traitor above all others. Although utterly different in terms of their musical expression, the battaglia and the lamento are nevertheless similar in content, at least as far as the political lamenti are concerned.
- Silke Leopold (translated by Jacqueline Minett)