Cipriano de Rore: I madrigali a cinque voci

by Blue Heron

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    The two discs come in a single 4-panel wallet-style format. There are no plastic CD trays, which makes for a greener (and more lightweight) package. The discs contain a world premiere recording of “I madrigali a cinque voci”, by Cipriano de Rore, including all 20 madrigals in the sequence found in the 1542 print, as well as readings of the poems in Italian by Alessandro Quarta. The booklet includes extensive notes by Musicologist Jessie Ann Owens (Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis), one of the world's leading experts on the composer, about De Rore and this book of madrigals, her research about the poets, and the evidence supporting her conclusion that the publication is a “song cycle”; notes by Scott Metcalfe about performance practice (including rhetorical delivery of text); and complete texts and translations.

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1.
Cantai mentre ch’i’ arsi del mio foco La viva fiamma, ov’io morendo vissi, Ben che quant’io cantai e quant’io scrissi Di madonna e d’amor fu nulla o poco. Ma se i begli occhi ond’il mio cor s’accese Del lor chiaro divin almo splendore Non m’havessero a torto fatto indegno, Col canto havrei l’interno e grave ardore A gl’orecchi di tal fatto palese Che pietà fora ov’alberga ira e sdegno. A gli amorosi strali fermo segno Sarei, pieno di dolce aspro martiro Ov’hora in libertà piango e sospiro. Ahi, pace in cor d’amanti non ha loco! Giovanni Brevio Rime et prose volgari (Rome, 1545) I sang while I burned from the living flame of my fire, in which I, dying, lived, although what I sang and what I wrote of my lady and of love were nothing, or little. But if the fair eyes whence my heart was ignited had not wrongly found me unworthy of their bright, divine, life-giving splendor, with song I would have revealed my inward grievous passion to her ears, so that there might be pity where anger and disdain now dwell. I would be a sure mark for amorous arrows, full of sweet, bitter suffering where now in freedom I weep and sigh. Oh, peace has no place in the hearts of lovers! Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translation by Martha Feldman.
2.
Cantai mentre ch’i’ arsi del mio foco La viva fiamma, ov’io morendo vissi, Ben che quant’io cantai e quant’io scrissi Di madonna e d’amor fu nulla o poco. Ma se i begli occhi ond’il mio cor s’accese Del lor chiaro divin almo splendore Non m’havessero a torto fatto indegno, Col canto havrei l’interno e grave ardore A gl’orecchi di tal fatto palese Che pietà fora ov’alberga ira e sdegno. A gli amorosi strali fermo segno Sarei, pieno di dolce aspro martiro Ov’hora in libertà piango e sospiro. Ahi, pace in cor d’amanti non ha loco! Giovanni Brevio Rime et prose volgari (Rome, 1545) I sang while I burned from the living flame of my fire, in which I, dying, lived, although what I sang and what I wrote of my lady and of love were nothing, or little. But if the fair eyes whence my heart was ignited had not wrongly found me unworthy of their bright, divine, life-giving splendor, with song I would have revealed my inward grievous passion to her ears, so that there might be pity where anger and disdain now dwell. I would be a sure mark for amorous arrows, full of sweet, bitter suffering where now in freedom I weep and sigh. Oh, peace has no place in the hearts of lovers! Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translation by Martha Feldman.
3.
Hor che ’l ciel et la terra e ’l vento tace, Et le fere e gli augelli il sono affrena, Notte ’l carro stellato in giro mena, Et nel suo letto il mar senz’onda giace, Veggio, penso, ardo, piango, e chi mi sface Sempre m’è inanzi per mia dolce pena. Guerra è ’l mio stato, d’ira e di duol piena, Et sol di lei pensando ho qualche pace. Così sol d’una chiara fonte viva Move ’l dolce e l’amaro ond’io mi pasco: Una man sola mi risana e punge, Et perche ’l mio martir non giunga a riva, Mille volte il dì moro, e mille nasco, Tanto da la salute mia son lunge. Francesco Petrarca, Canzoniere 164 Now that the heavens and the earth and the wind are silent and sleep reins in the beasts and the birds, Night drives her starry car about, and in his bed the sea lies without a wave, I wake, I think, I burn, I weep; and she who destroys me is always before me, to my sweet pain. War is my state, full of wrath and suffering, and only thinking of her do I have any peace. Thus from one clear living fountain alone springs the sweet and the bitter on which I feed: one hand alone heals me and pierces me, and so that my suffering may not reach its end, a thousand times a day I die and a thousand am born, so far am I from my health. Translation by Scott Metcalfe Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
4.
Hor che ’l ciel et la terra e ’l vento tace, Et le fere e gli augelli il sono affrena, Notte ’l carro stellato in giro mena, Et nel suo letto il mar senz’onda giace, Veggio, penso, ardo, piango, e chi mi sface Sempre m’è inanzi per mia dolce pena. Guerra è ’l mio stato, d’ira e di duol piena, Et sol di lei pensando ho qualche pace. Così sol d’una chiara fonte viva Move ’l dolce e l’amaro ond’io mi pasco: Una man sola mi risana e punge, Et perche ’l mio martir non giunga a riva, Mille volte il dì moro, e mille nasco, Tanto da la salute mia son lunge. Francesco Petrarca, Canzoniere 164 Now that the heavens and the earth and the wind are silent and sleep reins in the beasts and the birds, Night drives her starry car about, and in his bed the sea lies without a wave, I wake, I think, I burn, I weep; and she who destroys me is always before me, to my sweet pain. War is my state, full of wrath and suffering, and only thinking of her do I have any peace. Thus from one clear living fountain alone springs the sweet and the bitter on which I feed: one hand alone heals me and pierces me, and so that my suffering may not reach its end, a thousand times a day I die and a thousand am born, so far am I from my health. Translation by Scott Metcalfe Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
5.
Poggiand’al ciel coll’ali del desio Icaro il fol’ardir’ menol’in parte Dove si sfe la cera a parte a parte, Che di pium’e d’orgolio il padre ordio. Miser, ove ti mena il fatto rio, Fuor del dritto camin ad infiammarte, Fer sepultura a le tue membra sparte Le belle nimphe Galathea e Spio. Tal si trova dinanzi al lume vostro, Donna gentil, ogni ardimento humano Che d’honor et virtute si desvia; Dinanzi a voi Amor lascivo et vano Perd’ali e strali. O dov’è chi mi dia Per honorarv’assai ingegno e ingiostro? anonymous Soaring up to the heavens on wings of desire, Icarus was led by mad daring to the place where bit by bit the wax melted that his father had woven with feathers and pride. O wretch, where the wicked deed leads you, leaving the straight path to be consumed in flames, a sepulchre for your scattered limbs was made by the fair nymphs Galateia and Speio. Such is the lot, before your light, noble lady, of every human audacity that turns away from honor and virtue: before you lascivious and vain Love loses his wings and arrows. Oh, where is he who might give me wit and ink to honor you enough? Translation by Scott Metcalfe
6.
Poggiand’al ciel coll’ali del desio Icaro il fol’ardir’ menol’in parte Dove si sfe la cera a parte a parte, Che di pium’e d’orgolio il padre ordio. Miser, ove ti mena il fatto rio, Fuor del dritto camin ad infiammarte, Fer sepultura a le tue membra sparte Le belle nimphe Galathea e Spio. Tal si trova dinanzi al lume vostro, Donna gentil, ogni ardimento humano Che d’honor et virtute si desvia; Dinanzi a voi Amor lascivo et vano Perd’ali e strali. O dov’è chi mi dia Per honorarv’assai ingegno e ingiostro? anonymous Soaring up to the heavens on wings of desire, Icarus was led by mad daring to the place where bit by bit the wax melted that his father had woven with feathers and pride. O wretch, where the wicked deed leads you, leaving the straight path to be consumed in flames, a sepulchre for your scattered limbs was made by the fair nymphs Galateia and Speio. Such is the lot, before your light, noble lady, of every human audacity that turns away from honor and virtue: before you lascivious and vain Love loses his wings and arrows. Oh, where is he who might give me wit and ink to honor you enough? Translation by Scott Metcalfe
7.
Quand’io son tutto volto in quella parte, Ove ’l bel viso di madonna luce, Et m’è rimasa nel pensier la luce, Che m’arde e strugge dentro a parte a parte, I’, che temo del cor che mi si parte, Et veggio presso il fin de la mia luce, Vomene in guisa d’orbo senza luce, Che non sa ove si vada, et pur si parte. Così davanti a i colpi de la morte Fugo, ma non si ratto, che ’l desio Meco non venga, come venir sole. Tacito vo, che le parole morte Farian pianger la gente: et i’ desio Che le lagrime mie si spargan sole. Petrarca, Canzoniere 18 When I am all turned toward that place where my lady’s fair face shines, and in my thoughts remains the light that burns and melts me within, bit by bit, I, since I fear for my heart, which is breaking, and see at hand the end of my life, take my leave like a blind man without sight, who does not know where he goes, and yet departs. And so before the blows of death I flee, but not so quickly that desire does not come with me, as it is used to. Silent, I go; for my words of death would make people weep, and I desire that my tears be shed in solitude. Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
8.
Quand’io son tutto volto in quella parte, Ove ’l bel viso di madonna luce, Et m’è rimasa nel pensier la luce, Che m’arde e strugge dentro a parte a parte, I’, che temo del cor che mi si parte, Et veggio presso il fin de la mia luce, Vomene in guisa d’orbo senza luce, Che non sa ove si vada, et pur si parte. Così davanti a i colpi de la morte Fugo, ma non si ratto, che ’l desio Meco non venga, come venir sole. Tacito vo, che le parole morte Farian pianger la gente: et i’ desio Che le lagrime mie si spargan sole. Petrarca, Canzoniere 18 When I am all turned toward that place where my lady’s fair face shines, and in my thoughts remains the light that burns and melts me within, bit by bit, I, since I fear for my heart, which is breaking, and see at hand the end of my life, take my leave like a blind man without sight, who does not know where he goes, and yet departs. And so before the blows of death I flee, but not so quickly that desire does not come with me, as it is used to. Silent, I go; for my words of death would make people weep, and I desire that my tears be shed in solitude. Translation by Scott Metcalfe Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
9.
Solea lontana in sonno consolarme Con quella dolce angelica sua vista Madonna; hor mi spaventa et mi contrista, Né di duol né di tema posso aitarme: Che spesso nel suo volto veder parme Vera pietà con grave dolor mista, Et udir cose onde ’l cor fede acquista Che di gioia et di speme si disarme. “Non ti soven di quell’ ultima sera,” Dic’ella, “ch’i’ lasciai li occhi tuoi molli Et sforzata dal tempo me n’andai? I’ non tel potei dir all’hor, né volli; hor tel dico per cosa experta et vera, Non sperar di vedermi in terra mai.” Petrarca, Canzoniere 250 From afar, my lady used to console me in sleep with her sweet angelic countenance; now she terrifies me and makes me sorrowful, nor can I defend myself against grief or fear: for often in her face I seem to see true pity mixed with grave pain, and to hear things that persuade my heart to disarm itself of joy and hope. “Do you not remember that last evening,” she says, “when I left your eyes moist and, forced by time, I departed? “I could not tell you then, nor did I want to; now I tell you as something tried and true: Do not hope to see me on earth ever again.” Translation by Scott Metcalfe Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
10.
Solea lontana in sonno consolarme Con quella dolce angelica sua vista Madonna; hor mi spaventa et mi contrista, Né di duol né di tema posso aitarme: Che spesso nel suo volto veder parme Vera pietà con grave dolor mista, Et udir cose onde ’l cor fede acquista Che di gioia et di speme si disarme. “Non ti soven di quell’ ultima sera,” Dic’ella, “ch’i’ lasciai li occhi tuoi molli Et sforzata dal tempo me n’andai? I’ non tel potei dir all’hor, né volli; hor tel dico per cosa experta et vera, Non sperar di vedermi in terra mai.” Petrarca, Canzoniere 250 From afar, my lady used to console me in sleep with her sweet angelic countenance; now she terrifies me and makes me sorrowful, nor can I defend myself against grief or fear: for often in her face I seem to see true pity mixed with grave pain, and to hear things that persuade my heart to disarm itself of joy and hope. “Do you not remember that last evening,” she says, “when I left your eyes moist and, forced by time, I departed? “I could not tell you then, nor did I want to; now I tell you as something tried and true: Do not hope to see me on earth ever again.” Translation by Scott Metcalfe Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
11.
Altiero sasso lo cui gioco spira Gli antichi honor del gran popul di Marte, Fiume che fendi questa et quella parte, Hor quieto et piano, hor pien di sdegno et ira; Piaggie che ’l mondo ancor ama et sospira, Consecrate da tante et da tai carte, Memorie eterne et voi reliquie sparte Ch’ogni bon alma con pieta rimira: Parmi d’udir fugendo a voi d’intorno Sospirar l’onde, e i rami e i fior e l’ora Lagnarsi, et per dolor romper i sassi, Che già del pianto s’avicina el giorno Che ’l bel viso ch’Italia tutta honora Cinti d’horor al suo partir vi lassi. Francesco Maria Molza in Libro terzo delle rime di diversi nobilissimi et eccellentissimi autori (Venice, 1550) Proud rock whose peak breathes forth the ancient rites of the great people of Mars; river that breaks on this side and that, now quiet and still, now full of rage and fury; grounds that the world still loves and sighs for, consecrated by so many and by such writings; eternal memories, and you scattered relics on which every good soul gazes with devotion: I seem to hear fleeing around you the waves sigh, and the branches and flowers and breeze lament, and the stones break from grief, for already the day of weeping draws near when the fair face that all Italy honors shall leave you wrapt in horror at her departure. [Originally written to mark the departure of Vittoria Farnese, sent from Rome to marry a member of the French royal family.] Translation by Scott Metcalfe Cf. Martha Feldman
12.
Altiero sasso lo cui gioco spira Gli antichi honor del gran popul di Marte, Fiume che fendi questa et quella parte, Hor quieto et piano, hor pien di sdegno et ira; Piaggie che ’l mondo ancor ama et sospira, Consecrate da tante et da tai carte, Memorie eterne et voi reliquie sparte Ch’ogni bon alma con pieta rimira: Parmi d’udir fugendo a voi d’intorno Sospirar l’onde, e i rami e i fior e l’ora Lagnarsi, et per dolor romper i sassi, Che già del pianto s’avicina el giorno Che ’l bel viso ch’Italia tutta honora Cinti d’horor al suo partir vi lassi. Francesco Maria Molza in Libro terzo delle rime di diversi nobilissimi et eccellentissimi autori (Venice, 1550) Proud rock whose peak breathes forth the ancient rites of the great people of Mars; river that breaks on this side and that, now quiet and still, now full of rage and fury; grounds that the world still loves and sighs for, consecrated by so many and by such writings; eternal memories, and you scattered relics on which every good soul gazes with devotion: I seem to hear fleeing around you the waves sigh, and the branches and flowers and breeze lament, and the stones break from grief, for already the day of weeping draws near when the fair face that all Italy honors shall leave you wrapt in horror at her departure. [Originally written to mark the departure of Vittoria Farnese, sent from Rome to marry a member of the French royal family.] Translation by Scott Metcalfe Cf. Martha Feldman
13.
Strane rupi, aspri monti, alte tremanti Ruine e sassi al ciel nudi e scoperti, Ove a gran pena pon salir tant’erti Nuvoli in questo fosco aer fumanti; Superbo horror, tacite selve e tanti Negr’antr’herbosi in rotte pietre aperti, Abbandonati, sterili deserti Ove han paura andar le belve erranti: A guisa d’hom che da soverchia pena Il cor trist’ange, fuor di senn’uscito Se n’ va piangendo ove la furia il mena, Vo piangend’io tra voi, e se partito Non cangia il ciel, con voce assai più piena Sarò di là tra le mest’ombre udito. Niccolò Amanio in Delle rime di diversi nobili huomini et eccellenti poeti…libro secondo (Venice, 1547) Strange cliffs, harsh mountains, high shaking ruins, and rocks naked and exposed to Heaven, where with great effort such steep clouds of smoke rise in the gloomy, fuming air; awesome horror, silent woods, and so many black grass-grown caves opened into broken stones; abandoned, barren deserts where wandering beasts go in fear: Like a man whose sad heart is torn with excessive pain, out of his mind, who goes weeping wherever madness leads him, I go weeping among you: and if Heaven does not take my side, with much fuller voice will I be heard from among the sad shades. Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. Translation by Martha Feldman
14.
Strane rupi, aspri monti, alte tremanti Ruine e sassi al ciel nudi e scoperti, Ove a gran pena pon salir tant’erti Nuvoli in questo fosco aer fumanti; Superbo horror, tacite selve e tanti Negr’antr’herbosi in rotte pietre aperti, Abbandonati, sterili deserti Ove han paura andar le belve erranti: A guisa d’hom che da soverchia pena Il cor trist’ange, fuor di senn’uscito Se n’ va piangendo ove la furia il mena, Vo piangend’io tra voi, e se partito Non cangia il ciel, con voce assai più piena Sarò di là tra le mest’ombre udito. Niccolò Amanio in Delle rime di diversi nobili huomini et eccellenti poeti…libro secondo (Venice, 1547) Strange cliffs, harsh mountains, high shaking ruins, and rocks naked and exposed to Heaven, where with great effort such steep clouds of smoke rise in the gloomy, fuming air; awesome horror, silent woods, and so many black grass-grown caves opened into broken stones; abandoned, barren deserts where wandering beasts go in fear: Like a man whose sad heart is torn with excessive pain, out of his mind, who goes weeping wherever madness leads him, I go weeping among you: and if Heaven does not take my side, with much fuller voice will I be heard from among the sad shades. Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. Translation by Martha Feldman
15.
La vita fuge, et non s’arresta un’hora, Et la morte ven dietro a gran giornate, Et le cose presenti, et le passate Mi danno guerra, et le future anchora, E ’l rimembrar et l’aspettar m’accora, Hor quinci, hor quindi, sì che ’n veritate, Se non ch’i’ ho di me stesso pietate, I’ sarei già di questi pensier fora. Tornami avanti, s’alcun dolce mai Hebbe ’l cor tristo; et poi da l’altra parte Veggio al mio navigar turbati i venti; Veggio fortuna in porto, et stanco homai Il mio nochier, et rotte arbore et sarte, E i lumi bei, che mirar soglio, spenti. Petrarca, Canzoniere 272 Life is fleeting and does not pause for a moment, and death follows after by great stages, and present and past things make war on me, and future things also, and remembering and expecting weigh down my heart, now on this side, now on that, so that in truth, except that I take pity on myself, I would already be beyond these thoughts. If my sad heart ever knew any sweetness, it reappears before me; and then on the other side I see the winds turbulent for my voyage, I see a storm in port, and my helmsman wearied now, and masts and lines broken, and the beautiful lights that I used to gaze at, extinguished. Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
16.
La vita fuge, et non s’arresta un’hora, Et la morte ven dietro a gran giornate, Et le cose presenti, et le passate Mi danno guerra, et le future anchora, E ’l rimembrar et l’aspettar m’accora, Hor quinci, hor quindi, sì che ’n veritate, Se non ch’i’ ho di me stesso pietate, I’ sarei già di questi pensier fora. Tornami avanti, s’alcun dolce mai Hebbe ’l cor tristo; et poi da l’altra parte Veggio al mio navigar turbati i venti; Veggio fortuna in porto, et stanco homai Il mio nochier, et rotte arbore et sarte, E i lumi bei, che mirar soglio, spenti. Petrarca, Canzoniere 272 Life is fleeting and does not pause for a moment, and death follows after by great stages, and present and past things make war on me, and future things also, and remembering and expecting weigh down my heart, now on this side, now on that, so that in truth, except that I take pity on myself, I would already be beyond these thoughts. If my sad heart ever knew any sweetness, it reappears before me; and then on the other side I see the winds turbulent for my voyage, I see a storm in port, and my helmsman wearied now, and masts and lines broken, and the beautiful lights that I used to gaze at, extinguished. Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
17.
Tu piangi, et quella per chi fai tal pianto Ne ride, et ride ’l ciel che l’ha raccolta Fra l’alme elette, libera e disciolta Dal fral, caduco et corruptibil manto. Lei, tutta intenta al lume divo e santo, Dolc’harmonia per ogni parte ascolta, Poi volgendosi a se si dice, “O stolta, Perché se’ in terra dimorata tanto?” Et quando gli occhi suoi qua giù declina, Vedendo la pregion d’ond’è partita, Si duol di tua miseria e trista sorte. El viver nostr’è un fior colto da spina; Però piange la tua, non la sua morte, Che morte è quella che si chiama vita. Antonio Tebaldeo Opere (Modena, 1498) You weep, and she for whom you weep laughs, and heaven laughs, which has received her among the elect souls, free and released from her frail, impermanent, and corruptible mantle. She, all intent on the divine and holy light, hears sweet harmony on every side, then, turning to herself, says: “O foolish one, why did you linger so long on earth?” And when she lowers her eyes down here, seeing the prison from which she escaped she grieves over your misery and sad fate. Our life is a flower plucked from amongst thorns; so weep for your death, not for hers, for death is that which we call “life.” Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. Translation by Angela Lloyd
18.
Tu piangi, et quella per chi fai tal pianto Ne ride, et ride ’l ciel che l’ha raccolta Fra l’alme elette, libera e disciolta Dal fral, caduco et corruptibil manto. Lei, tutta intenta al lume divo e santo, Dolc’harmonia per ogni parte ascolta, Poi volgendosi a se si dice, “O stolta, Perché se’ in terra dimorata tanto?” Et quando gli occhi suoi qua giù declina, Vedendo la pregion d’ond’è partita, Si duol di tua miseria e trista sorte. El viver nostr’è un fior colto da spina; Però piange la tua, non la sua morte, Che morte è quella che si chiama vita. Antonio Tebaldeo Opere (Modena, 1498) You weep, and she for whom you weep laughs, and heaven laughs, which has received her among the elect souls, free and released from her frail, impermanent, and corruptible mantle. She, all intent on the divine and holy light, hears sweet harmony on every side, then, turning to herself, says: “O foolish one, why did you linger so long on earth?” And when she lowers her eyes down here, seeing the prison from which she escaped she grieves over your misery and sad fate. Our life is a flower plucked from amongst thorns; so weep for your death, not for hers, for death is that which we call “life.” Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. Translation by Angela Lloyd
19.
Il mal mi preme, et mi spaventa il peggio, Al qual veggio sì larga et piana via, Ch’i’ son intrato in simil frenesia, Et con duro pensier teco vaneggio. Né so se guerra o pace a Dio mi cheggio, Ché ’l danno è grave, et la vergogna è ria. Ma perché più languir? Di noi pur fia Quel ch’ordinato è già nel sommo seggio. Ben ch’i’ non sia di quel grande honor degno Che tu mi fai, che te ne ’nganna amore, Che spesso occhio ben san fa veder torto, Pur d’alzar l’alma a quel celeste regno È ’l mio consiglio, et di spronare il core, Perché ’l camin è lungo, e ’l tempo è corto. Petrarch, Canzoniere 244 Ill oppresses me, and I am terrified by the worst, toward which I see so broad and smooth a way that I have entered into frenzy like yours and with hard thoughts rave with you. I do not know whether to ask God for war or peace, for the danger is grave and the shame is cruel. But why languish any more? It shall be with us as is already ordained at the highest throne. Although I am not worthy of that great honor which you do me—for love deceives you which oft makes a healthy eye see crooked— still, my counsel is to lift your soul to that heavenly kingdom, and spur your heart, for the road is long and the time is short. (Response to a sonnet addressed to Petrarch by his friend and doctor, Giovanni Dondi dall’Orologio: see Canzoniere ed. Santagata, p. 988-9.) Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
20.
Il mal mi preme, et mi spaventa il peggio, Al qual veggio sì larga et piana via, Ch’i’ son intrato in simil frenesia, Et con duro pensier teco vaneggio. Né so se guerra o pace a Dio mi cheggio, Ché ’l danno è grave, et la vergogna è ria. Ma perché più languir? Di noi pur fia Quel ch’ordinato è già nel sommo seggio. Ben ch’i’ non sia di quel grande honor degno Che tu mi fai, che te ne ’nganna amore, Che spesso occhio ben san fa veder torto, Pur d’alzar l’alma a quel celeste regno È ’l mio consiglio, et di spronare il core, Perché ’l camin è lungo, e ’l tempo è corto. Petrarch, Canzoniere 244 Ill oppresses me, and I am terrified by the worst, toward which I see so broad and smooth a way that I have entered into frenzy like yours and with hard thoughts rave with you. I do not know whether to ask God for war or peace, for the danger is grave and the shame is cruel. But why languish any more? It shall be with us as is already ordained at the highest throne. Although I am not worthy of that great honor which you do me—for love deceives you which oft makes a healthy eye see crooked— still, my counsel is to lift your soul to that heavenly kingdom, and spur your heart, for the road is long and the time is short. Response to a sonnet addressed to Petrarch by his friend and doctor, Giovanni Dondi dall’Orologio: see Canzoniere ed. Santagata, p. 988-9. Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
21.
Per mezz’i boschi inhospiti et selvaggi, Onde vanno a gran rischio homini et arme, Vo secur’ io, che non pò spaventarme Altri che ’l sol, ch’à d’amor vivo i raggi.
 Et vo cantando (o pensier miei non saggi) Lei che ’l ciel non poria lontana farme, Ch’i’ l’ho negli occhi; et veder seco parme Donne et donzelle, et sono abeti et faggi. Parme d’udirla, udendo i rami et l’ore Et le frondi et gli augei lagnarsi, et l’acque Mormorando fuggir per l’herba verde. Raro un silentio, un solitario horrore D’ombrosa selva mai tanto mi piacque, Se non che dal mio sol troppo si perde. Petrarch Canzoniere 176 Through the midst of hostile savage woods, where armed men go at great risk, I go without fear, for nothing can frighten me except that sun which takes its rays from living Love. And I go singing (oh my unwise thoughts!) of her whom the heavens could not put far from me, for I have her before my eyes; and with her I seem to see ladies and damsels, and they are but firs and beeches. I seem to hear her, hearing the branches and the breeze and the leaves, and the birds lamenting, and the waters fleeing with a murmur across the green grass. Rarely has a silence, a solitary horror of shady woods ever pleased me so much, except that I lose too much of my sun. Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
22.
Per mezz’i boschi inhospiti et selvaggi, Onde vanno a gran rischio homini et arme, Vo secur’ io, che non pò spaventarme Altri che ’l sol, ch’à d’amor vivo i raggi.
 Et vo cantando (o pensier miei non saggi) Lei che ’l ciel non poria lontana farme, Ch’i’ l’ho negli occhi; et veder seco parme Donne et donzelle, et sono abeti et faggi. Parme d’udirla, udendo i rami et l’ore Et le frondi et gli augei lagnarsi, et l’acque Mormorando fuggir per l’herba verde. Raro un silentio, un solitario horrore D’ombrosa selva mai tanto mi piacque, Se non che dal mio sol troppo si perde. Petrarch Canzoniere 176 Through the midst of hostile savage woods, where armed men go at great risk, I go without fear, for nothing can frighten me except that sun which takes its rays from living Love. And I go singing (oh my unwise thoughts!) of her whom the heavens could not put far from me, for I have her before my eyes; and with her I seem to see ladies and damsels, and they are but firs and beeches. I seem to hear her, hearing the branches and the breeze and the leaves, and the birds lamenting, and the waters fleeing with a murmur across the green grass. Rarely has a silence, a solitary horror of shady woods ever pleased me so much, except that I lose too much of my sun. Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
23.
Quanto più m’avicino al giorno extremo Che l’humana miseria suol far breve, Più veggio il tempo andar veloce et leve, E ’l mio di lui sperar fallace et scemo. I’ dico a’ miei pensier, Non molto andremo D’amor parlando homai, ché ’l duro et greve Terreno incarco come fresca neve Si va strugendo, onde noi pace havremo. Perché con lui cadrà quella speranza, Che ne fe’ vaneggiar sì lungamente, E ’l riso, e ’l pianto, et la paura, et l’ira. Sì vedrem chiaro poi come sovente Per le cose dubiose altri s’avanza, Et come spesso indarno si sospira. Petrarch, Canzoniere 32 The closer I approach that last day that makes all human misery brief, the more I see that Time runs swift and light and that my hope of him is fallacious and empty. I say to my thoughts, “We won’t go on much further now speaking of love, for this hard and heavy earthly burden like fresh snow is melting, and we shall have peace. “For with it will fall that hope that made us rave so long, and the laughter and the tears and the fear and the rage. “We shall see clearly then how often people chase after uncertain things, and how often they sigh in vain.” Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
24.
Quanto più m’avicino al giorno extremo Che l’humana miseria suol far breve, Più veggio il tempo andar veloce et leve, E ’l mio di lui sperar fallace et scemo. I’ dico a’ miei pensier, Non molto andremo D’amor parlando homai, ché ’l duro et greve Terreno incarco come fresca neve Si va strugendo, onde noi pace havremo. Perché con lui cadrà quella speranza, Che ne fe’ vaneggiar sì lungamente, E ’l riso, e ’l pianto, et la paura, et l’ira. Sì vedrem chiaro poi come sovente Per le cose dubiose altri s’avanza, Et come spesso indarno si sospira. Petrarch, Canzoniere 32 The closer I approach that last day that makes all human misery brief, the more I see that Time runs swift and light and that my hope of him is fallacious and empty. I say to my thoughts, “We won’t go on much further now speaking of love, for this hard and heavy earthly burden like fresh snow is melting, and we shall have peace. “For with it will fall that hope that made us rave so long, and the laughter and the tears and the fear and the rage. “We shall see clearly then how often people chase after uncertain things, and how often they sigh in vain.” Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
25.
Perseguendomi Amor al luogo usato, Ristretto in guisa d’huom ch’aspetta guerra, Che si provede, e i passi intorno serra, Di miei antichi pensier’ mi stava armato. Volsimi, et vidi un’ombra che da lato Stampava il sole, et riconobbi in terra Quella che, se ’l giudicio mio non erra, Era piu degna d’immortale stato. Io dicea fra mio cor: Perche paventi? Ma non fu prima dentro il pensier giunto Che i raggi, ov’io mi struggo, eran presenti. Come col balenar tona in un punto, Così fu’ io de’ begli occhi lucenti Et d’un dolce saluto insieme aggiunto. Petrarch, Canzoniere 110 Since Love was pursuing me to the usual place, I, drawn up like a man who expects war, who provisions himself and closes the passes all around, was armed with my old thoughts. I turned and saw a shadow to one side, cast by the sun, and on the ground I recognized her who, if my judgment does not err, was more worthy of immortal state. I was saying within my heart: “Why are you afraid?” but the thought had no sooner entered within than the rays that melt me were present; as with lightning the thunder comes at the same instant, so I was overtaken by those beautiful shining eyes and a sweet greeting all at once. Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
26.
Perseguendomi Amor al luogo usato, Ristretto in guisa d’huom ch’aspetta guerra, Che si provede, e i passi intorno serra, Di miei antichi pensier’ mi stava armato. Volsimi, et vidi un’ombra che da lato Stampava il sole, et riconobbi in terra Quella che, se ’l giudicio mio non erra, Era piu degna d’immortale stato. Io dicea fra mio cor: Perche paventi? Ma non fu prima dentro il pensier giunto Che i raggi, ov’io mi struggo, eran presenti. Come col balenar tona in un punto, Così fu’ io de’ begli occhi lucenti Et d’un dolce saluto insieme aggiunto. Petrarch, Canzoniere 110 Since Love was pursuing me to the usual place, I, drawn up like a man who expects war, who provisions himself and closes the passes all around, was armed with my old thoughts. I turned and saw a shadow to one side, cast by the sun, and on the ground I recognized her who, if my judgment does not err, was more worthy of immortal state. I was saying within my heart: “Why are you afraid?” but the thought had no sooner entered within than the rays that melt me were present; as with lightning the thunder comes at the same instant, so I was overtaken by those beautiful shining eyes and a sweet greeting all at once. Translation by Scott Metcalfe, Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
27.
Chi vol veder quantunque pò natura E ’l ciel tra noi, venga a mirar costei, Ch’è sola un sol, non pur a gli occhi miei, Ma ’l mondo cieco, che vertù non cura. Et venga tosto, perché morte fura Prima i migliori, et lascia star i rei. Questa aspettata al regno de gli dei, Cosa bella mortal passa et non dura. Vedrà, s’arriva a tempo, ogni virtute, Ogni bellezza, ogni real costume Giunti in un corpo con mirabil tempre. Allhor dirà che mie rime son mute, L’ingegno offeso dal soverchio lume. Ma se più tarda, havrà da pianger sempre. Petrarch, Canzoniere 248 Whoever wishes to see all that Nature and Heaven can do among us, let him come gaze on her, for she alone is a sun, and not merely for my eyes but for the blind world, which does not care for virtue; and let him come soon, for death steals the best first, and leaves behind the wicked. Awaited in the kingdom of the gods, this beautiful mortal thing passes and does not endure. He will see, if he arrives in time, every virtue, every beauty, every regal manner joined in one body, marvelously tempered. Then he will say that my rhymes are mute, my wit overcome by excessive light. But if he waits too long he shall have to weep forever. Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
28.
Chi vol veder quantunque pò natura E ’l ciel tra noi, venga a mirar costei, Ch’è sola un sol, non pur a gli occhi miei, Ma ’l mondo cieco, che vertù non cura. Et venga tosto, perché morte fura Prima i migliori, et lascia star i rei. Questa aspettata al regno de gli dei, Cosa bella mortal passa et non dura. Vedrà, s’arriva a tempo, ogni virtute, Ogni bellezza, ogni real costume Giunti in un corpo con mirabil tempre. Allhor dirà che mie rime son mute, L’ingegno offeso dal soverchio lume. Ma se più tarda, havrà da pianger sempre. Petrarch, Canzoniere 248 Whoever wishes to see all that Nature and Heaven can do among us, let him come gaze on her, for she alone is a sun, and not merely for my eyes but for the blind world, which does not care for virtue; and let him come soon, for death steals the best first, and leaves behind the wicked. Awaited in the kingdom of the gods, this beautiful mortal thing passes and does not endure. He will see, if he arrives in time, every virtue, every beauty, every regal manner joined in one body, marvelously tempered. Then he will say that my rhymes are mute, my wit overcome by excessive light. But if he waits too long he shall have to weep forever. Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
29.
Quel sempre acerbo et honorato giorno Mandò sì al cor l’imagine sua viva Ch’ingegno o stil non fia mai che ’l descriva, Ma spesso a lui con la memoria torno. L’atto d’ogni gentil pietate adorno, E ’l dolce amaro lamentar ch’io udiva, Facean dubbiar, se mortal donna o diva Fosse, che ’l ciel rasserenava intorno. La testa or fino, et calda neve il volto, Hebeno i cigli, et gli occhi eran due stelle, Onde Amor l’arco non tendeva in fallo. Perle et rose vermiglie, ove l’accolto Dolor formava ardenti voci et belle, Fiamma i sospir, le lagrime cristallo. Petrarch, Canzoniere 157 That forever cruel and honored day impressed upon my heart its image so alive there is no wit or style that can ever describe it, but often I return to it in memory. Her gestures adorned with all noble pity and the sweet bitter lamenting that I heard made me wonder if it were mortal woman or goddess who made the sky clear all around. Her head fine gold, and her face warm snow, ebony her eyebrows, and her eyes two stars, whence Love never bent his bow in vain; pearls and crimson roses, where the gathered sorrow formed ardent and beautiful words; flame her sighs, her tears crystal. Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
30.
Quel sempre acerbo et honorato giorno Mandò sì al cor l’imagine sua viva Ch’ingegno o stil non fia mai che ’l descriva, Ma spesso a lui con la memoria torno. L’atto d’ogni gentil pietate adorno, E ’l dolce amaro lamentar ch’io udiva, Facean dubbiar, se mortal donna o diva Fosse, che ’l ciel rasserenava intorno. La testa or fino, et calda neve il volto, Hebeno i cigli, et gli occhi eran due stelle, Onde Amor l’arco non tendeva in fallo. Perle et rose vermiglie, ove l’accolto Dolor formava ardenti voci et belle, Fiamma i sospir, le lagrime cristallo. Petrarch, Canzoniere 157 That forever cruel and honored day impressed upon my heart its image so alive there is no wit or style that can ever describe it, but often I return to it in memory. Her gestures adorned with all noble pity and the sweet bitter lamenting that I heard made me wonder if it were mortal woman or goddess who made the sky clear all around. Her head fine gold, and her face warm snow, ebony her eyebrows, and her eyes two stars, whence Love never bent his bow in vain; pearls and crimson roses, where the gathered sorrow formed ardent and beautiful words; flame her sighs, her tears crystal. Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
31.
Far potess’io vendetta di colei Che guardando et parlando mi distrugge, Et per più doglia poi s’asconde et fugge, Celando gli occhi a me sì dolci et rei. Così gli afflitti et stanchi pensier mei A poco a poco consumando sugge, E ’n sul cor quasi fero leon rugge La notte all’ hor quand’io posar dovrei. L’alma, cui morte del suo albergo caccia, Da me si parte, et di tal nodo sciolta Vassene pur a lei che la minaccia. Meravigliomi ben s’alcuna volta, Mentre le parla, et piange, et poi l’abbraccia, Non rompe ’l sonno suo, s’ella l’ascolta. Petrarch, Canzoniere 256 Could I but take vengeance on her who gazing and speaking destroys me and then, for more pain, absconds and flees, hiding from me her eyes so sweet and cruel! Thus she saps my afflicted and tired thoughts, consuming them little by little, and above my heart like a fierce lion roars at night, when I should be at rest. My soul, which Death chases from its dwelling, leaves me, and loosed from that knot goes off straight to her who menaces it. I marvel indeed if at some time, while it speaks to her, and weeps, and then embraces her, it does not break her sleep, if she is listening. Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
32.
Far potess’io vendetta di colei Che guardando et parlando mi distrugge, Et per più doglia poi s’asconde et fugge, Celando gli occhi a me sì dolci et rei. Così gli afflitti et stanchi pensier mei A poco a poco consumando sugge, E ’n sul cor quasi fero leon rugge La notte all’ hor quand’io posar dovrei. L’alma, cui morte del suo albergo caccia, Da me si parte, et di tal nodo sciolta Vassene pur a lei che la minaccia. Meravigliomi ben s’alcuna volta, Mentre le parla, et piange, et poi l’abbraccia, Non rompe ’l sonno suo, s’ella l’ascolta. Petrarch, Canzoniere 256 Could I but take vengeance on her who gazing and speaking destroys me and then, for more pain, absconds and flees, hiding from me her eyes so sweet and cruel! Thus she saps my afflicted and tired thoughts, consuming them little by little, and above my heart like a fierce lion roars at night, when I should be at rest. My soul, which Death chases from its dwelling, leaves me, and loosed from that knot goes off straight to her who menaces it. I marvel indeed if at some time, while it speaks to her, and weeps, and then embraces her, it does not break her sleep, if she is listening. Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
33.
Amor, che vedi ogni pensiero aperto E i duri passi, onde tu sol mi scorgi, Nel fondo del mio cor gli occhi tuoi porgi A te palese, a tutt’altri coverto. Sai quel che per seguirte ho già sofferto, Et tu pur via di poggio in poggio sorgi, Di giorno in giorno, et di me non t’accorgi Che son sì stanco, e ’l sentier m’è troppo erto. Ben veggio di lontano il dolce lume Ove per aspre vie mi sproni et giri, Ma non ho come tu da volar piume. Assai contenti lassi i miei desiri, Pur che ben desiando i’ mi consume, Né le dispiaccia che per lei sospiri. Petrarch, Canzoniere 163 Love, you who see plainly my every thought and the hard steps where you alone guide me, pierce with your glance the depths of my heart, which is revealed to you, but hidden from all others. You know what I have suffered to follow you, and still you climb from peak to peak, day after day, and do not notice me, that I am so weary, and the path is too steep for me. I do see in the distance the sweet light toward which you spur and turn me along bitter paths, but unlike you I have no wings to fly. You leave my desires enough satisfied as long as I am consumed with desiring well and it does not displease her that I sigh for her. Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
34.
Amor, che vedi ogni pensiero aperto E i duri passi, onde tu sol mi scorgi, Nel fondo del mio cor gli occhi tuoi porgi A te palese, a tutt’altri coverto. Sai quel che per seguirte ho già sofferto, Et tu pur via di poggio in poggio sorgi, Di giorno in giorno, et di me non t’accorgi Che son sì stanco, e ’l sentier m’è troppo erto. Ben veggio di lontano il dolce lume Ove per aspre vie mi sproni et giri, Ma non ho come tu da volar piume. Assai contenti lassi i miei desiri, Pur che ben desiando i’ mi consume, Né le dispiaccia che per lei sospiri. Petrarch, Canzoniere 163 Love, you who see plainly my every thought and the hard steps where you alone guide me, pierce with your glance the depths of my heart, which is revealed to you, but hidden from all others. You know what I have suffered to follow you, and still you climb from peak to peak, day after day, and do not notice me, that I am so weary, and the path is too steep for me. I do see in the distance the sweet light toward which you spur and turn me along bitter paths, but unlike you I have no wings to fly. You leave my desires enough satisfied as long as I am consumed with desiring well and it does not displease her that I sigh for her. Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translations by Robert Durling and Mark Musa
35.
Ben si conviene a voi Così bel nome, alma mia rosa, poi Che con quella beltà che ’l mondo honora Vincete i più bei fiori, E i più soavi odori D’odor vincete anchora. Dhe, se ’l ciel ve s’aggiri adhora adhora, Più ch’ad altra giamai cortese e pio, Non sprezzate orgogliosa il servir mio. anonymous Well does such a lovely name suit you, my life-giving Rose, since with that beauty that the world honors you surpass the most beautiful flowers, and with your fragrance you surpass the sweetest fragrance as well. Ah, though the heavens now circle around you, more courteous and pious than towards any other, do not haughtily despise my service. Translation by Scott Metcalfe
36.
Ben si conviene a voi Così bel nome, alma mia rosa, poi Che con quella beltà che ’l mondo honora Vincete i più bei fiori, E i più soavi odori D’odor vincete anchora. Dhe, se ’l ciel ve s’aggiri adhora adhora, Più ch’ad altra giamai cortese e pio, Non sprezzate orgogliosa il servir mio. anonymous Well does such a lovely name suit you, my life-giving Rose, since with that beauty that the world honors you surpass the most beautiful flowers, and with your fragrance you surpass the sweetest fragrance as well. Ah, though the heavens now circle around you, more courteous and pious than towards any other, do not haughtily despise my service. Translation by Scott Metcalfe
37.
Hor che l’aria et la terra Per natural destino e pioggia et gielo Quanto più oltre puote Et assale et percuote, Tal che ’l calor si smorza sin al cielo, Sol nel mio petto ogn’hor lasso si serra Più vivo ardente lume, Né per cangiar di ciel cangia costume, Ma con sì aspra guerra (Mercè d’una empia et fera) l’alma sface, Che morte sol desio per trovar pace. anonymous Now that the air and the earth in the natural order of things are assailed and struck by the full force of rain and frost, so that warmth is extinguished all the way up to the heavens, in my breast alone, alas, is forever enclosed a most intensely burning light, nor does it change with changing weather; but, with harshest warfare, at the mercy of a wicked and cruel lady, the soul is undone, so that I desire only death in order to find peace. Translations by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translation by Massimo Ossi.
38.
Hor che l’aria et la terra Per natural destino e pioggia et gielo Quanto più oltre puote Et assale et percuote, Tal che ’l calor si smorza sin al cielo, Sol nel mio petto ogn’hor lasso si serra Più vivo ardente lume, Né per cangiar di ciel cangia costume, Ma con sì aspra guerra (Mercè d’una empia et fera) l’alma sface, Che morte sol desio per trovar pace. anonymous Now that the air and the earth in the natural order of things are assailed and struck by the full force of rain and frost, so that warmth is extinguished all the way up to the heavens, in my breast alone, alas, is forever enclosed a most intensely burning light, nor does it change with changing weather; but, with harshest warfare, at the mercy of a wicked and cruel lady, the soul is undone, so that I desire only death in order to find peace. Translations by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translation by Massimo Ossi.
39.
Da quei bei lumi ond’io sempre sospiro, Piove dentro al mio cor una tal fiamma, Ch’io sento consumarmi a dramma a dramma, Et l’amaro m’è dolce empio martiro. Luci soavi ov’ha riposto amore Ogni sua gioia et ogni mio diletto, Caro de l’alma mia fidato albergo: Se per soccorso del afflitto core Al desiato loro almo ricetto Gli occhi d’humiltà pieni volgo et ergo, Non sia loro disdetto Il lume di quel sol che ’l mondo honora, Cagion ch’amando e ardendo i’ viva et mora. Giovanni Brevio Rime et prose volgari (Rome, 1545) From those fair eyes for which I am always sighing there rains within my heart such a flame that I feel myself consumed bit by bit, and for me the bitterness is sweet, sinful suffering. Gentle eyes, in which Love has stored his every joy and my every delight, trusted dwelling dear to my soul: if to succor my afflicted heart I turn and raise my eyes, full of humility, to their desired divine refuge, may the light of that sun that the world honors not be denied them: the reason that I, loving and burning, live and die. Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translation by Angela Lloyd.
40.
Da quei bei lumi ond’io sempre sospiro, Piove dentro al mio cor una tal fiamma, Ch’io sento consumarmi a dramma a dramma, Et l’amaro m’è dolce empio martiro. Luci soavi ov’ha riposto amore Ogni sua gioia et ogni mio diletto, Caro de l’alma mia fidato albergo: Se per soccorso del afflitto core Al desiato loro almo ricetto Gli occhi d’humiltà pieni volgo et ergo, Non sia loro disdetto Il lume di quel sol che ’l mondo honora, Cagion ch’amando e ardendo i’ viva et mora. Giovanni Brevio Rime et prose volgari (Rome, 1545) From those fair eyes for which I am always sighing there rains within my heart such a flame that I feel myself consumed bit by bit, and for me the bitterness is sweet, sinful suffering. Gentle eyes, in which Love has stored his every joy and my every delight, trusted dwelling dear to my soul: if to succor my afflicted heart I turn and raise my eyes, full of humility, to their desired divine refuge, may the light of that sun that the world honors not be denied them: the reason that I, loving and burning, live and die. Translation by Scott Metcalfe. Cf. translation by Angela Lloyd.

about

Cipriano de Rore (1515/16-1565)
I madrigali a cinque voci (Venice, 1542)

The first release of new material by Blue Heron since winning the 2018 Gramophone Classical Music Award for Early Music, this is a world premiere recording of “I madrigali a cinque voci”, by Cipriano de Rore. Released in a single four-panel wallet format, the set includes all 20 madrigals (on two discs) in the sequence found in the 1542 print, as well as readings of the poems in Italian by Alessandro Quarta. The full running time of the set is over 120 minutes.

“I madrigali a cinque voci” has long been considered a landmark in music history. Musicologist Jessie Ann Owens (Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis), writes:

“De Rore established the madrigal as a genre that would celebrate the fusion of music and poetry. The tight connection between text and music at every level—from the musical depiction of salient features in the poetry to the musical expression of the overall affect of each poem, and even to the large-scale narrative about love, represented through the colors of the modal system—make this collaboration between composer and poet a remarkable achievement with far-reaching implications for the ensuing generations.”

The poet has been identified by Prof. Owens as Giovanni Brevio (c.1480-c.1560). Together, Cipriano and Brevio organized a song cycle, with the works quite deliberately sequenced to follow a thematic arc. Much of the poetry Cipriano set to music is by Petrarch (1304-1374), but the first and last texts are Brevio’s own; the others, Prof. Owens’ research has revealed, are the work of poets connected to Brevio, and which were previously unpublished.

The substantial (54-page) booklet includes extensive notes by Prof. Owens about De Rore and this book of madrigals, her research about the poets, and the evidence supporting her conclusion that the publication is a “song cycle”; notes by Scott Metcalfe about performance practice (including rhetorical delivery of text); and complete texts and translations.

The 2015 Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society, was given to Prof. Owens and Blue Heron to help enable the pursuit of this project.

BHCD1009

Excerpts from Prof. Owens’ notes:

"I madrigali a cinque voci" has long been recognized as a landmark in music history, but the music, which demands uncommon virtuosity and meticulous attention to every aspect of the text, is rarely performed today, and, with few exceptions, has never been recorded. For me Blue Heron’s performances have caused me to rethink the specific stylistic features of the music. This is not the transparent homophony of Cipriano’s late style from the 1550s, much less the simple chanson-derived style of the early madrigal. Instead it seems sui generis: a distinctive kind of imitative polyphony or fuga that John Milsom describes as “flexed,” varied from statement to statement in both pitch and rhythm. Paradoxically, the individual musical segments are compact and dense while the composition as a whole is of unprecedented length. Together these features enable both the musical depiction of striking words and phrases, and the large-scale portrayal of affect. The use of a new “black note” rhythmic convention, with its shorter note values, adds yet one more possibility for text expression.

The revelation of Cipriano’s 1542 publication—the novelty that must have come as a shock to listeners accustomed to simple settings of amorous texts—is the power of music to portray human emotion. These madrigals, each one a world unto itself, when taken together tell a story about the many faces of love. It is no exaggeration to say that with this print De Rore established the madrigal as a genre that would celebrate the fusion of music and poetry. The tight connection between text and music at every level—from the musical depiction of salient features in the poetry to the musical expression of the overall affect of each poem, and even to the large-scale narrative about love, represented through the colors of the modal system—make this collaboration between composer and poet a remarkable achievement with far-reaching implications for the ensuing generations.

credits

released October 4, 2019

Recorded at the Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, June 21-25, 2018, October 3, 2018 & June 26-30, 2019.
Joel Gordon, engineering & mastering
Scott Metcalfe, producer
Eric Milnes & Joel Gordon, editing
Peter Atkinson, assistant engineer
Music edited by Scott Metcalfe & Jessie Ann Owens from "I madrigali a cinque voci" (Venice: Scotto, 1542).
Note entry by Holly Druckman.
Cover: Carlo Saraceni (1579-1620), Paesaggio con caduta di Icaro (Landscape with Fall of Icarus), 1606-7. Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Napoli. Image copyright Mondadori Portfolio/Electa/Sergio Anelli. Used by permission: Courtesy of Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Italy.

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Blue Heron Boston, Massachusetts

Winner of the 2018 Gramophone Classical Music Award for Early Music (the first non-European group to win the award), Blue Heron (Scott Metcalfe, dir.) has been acclaimed by The Boston Globe as “one of the Boston music community’s indispensables” and hailed by Alex Ross in The New Yorker for the “expressive intensity” of its interpretations. ... more

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