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Amor tiranno
Italian Love Songs of the 17th Century from Lobkowicz Collection in Bohemia

title page of the booklet 
F10159   [8595017415920]   released 5/2009

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MARKÉTA CUKROVÁ mezzo-soprano
JAN KREJČA theorbo, Baroque guitar, Renaissance lute
MILOSLAV ŠTUDENT archlute, Baroque guitar, Renaissance lute
PETR WAGNER viola da gamba
TOMÁŠ REINDL percussion

Even books have lives of their own, and the life of the Lobkowicz manuscript called ‘Ariette in musica da diversi maestri’ is truly unique. Though we know little about its journey to Roudnice, Bohemia, the manuscript is extraordinarily important in terms of both the quality of the compositions it contains and its historical value.
      At first sight the manuscript is striking because of its luxurious leather binding and particularly its calligraphy. The margins and other spaces without notation are ornamented with rich initials, employing mostly motifs from nature. (The ornaments are so rich, in fact, that the ink bleeding through the pages makes it difficult to read the notation on the other side.) Perhaps it is because of this decoration that the manuscript survived the period when the music it contains was already out of fashion. This may have been the intention, as it was, for example, in the Capirola Lute Book (1520), an illuminated manuscript whose scribe openly admits that he decorated many pages with colourful illustrations partly in order to preserve the compositions of the master composer. And that may have been a decisive factor particularly in the period before this volume found its way, sometime in the mid-eighteenth century, into the collection of the art-loving prince, Ferdinand Pilipp Lobkowicz (1724–1784), where it was then safe.
     Concerning the manuscript in the preceding period we know only what can be read from it and what we know of the immediate context. Its physical features suggest that the manuscript was made in the first half of the seventeenth century; the style and authorship of its sixty-six compositions tell us that it dates from the second half of the 1630s. At that time monody was past its peak, and the new and fashionable became what was ordinarily listened to. It was only a matter of a decade before opera performance would be completely open to the public. Far fewer printed volumes of anthologies of compositions were published, particularly because of persistent plague epidemics. Manuscripts from this period are therefore all the more valuable a source.
There is another manuscript, in Bologna, of mostly identical compositions written in the same hand and at the same time. This fact confirms the date, because it is known that this manuscript was dedicated to the important Florentine nobleman Filippo del Nero (d. 1648). The Roudnice collection unfortunately lacks the title page with the dedication.
Also from the point of view of style one can link the repertoire of the volume with the Florentine circle, which comprised mainly Giovanni Battista dell’Auca (d. 1648), Giovanni Bettini (early 17th C.), Settimia Caccini (1591–1660), Alessandro Ghivizzani (c. 1572–1632), Francesco del Niccolino (early 17th C.), Jacopo Peri (1561–1633), and Agniolo Conti (early 17th C.). Perhaps only Luigi Rossi (d. 1653) followed the musical principles of Rome. The works of Orazio Michi dell’Arpa (d. 1641), on the other hand, clearly reveal his Neapolitan training. We do not know the full names of the composers who were called ‘Lo Sconcertato’ and ‘di Parma’. The fact that most of the composers tended in their day to be famous for their interpretations rather than for their compositions should not really come as a surprise; most of the people we think of mainly as composers (because we know their work) were employed as instrumentalists or singers. The case is similar with the composers of the instrumental pieces on our recording, who in their day were the most renowned virtuosos of the lute and theorbo – Alessandro Piccinini (1566–1639), Michelagnolo Galilei (1575–1631), and Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger (1580–1651).
     Another special feature of our manuscript is the presence of compositions by a married couple – Settimia Caccini and Alessandro Ghivizzani. Since comparatively few of their works have survived, these related manuscripts constitute an important source of what we know about them as composers. That fact also supports the hypothesis that the manuscripts were made by people from their circle, probably del Niccolino, whose work is also represented on our recording.
      Settimia Caccini, also called La Flora, was the daughter of the renowned virtuoso singer and composer Giulio Caccini. She was known mainly as a singer. In Monteverdi’s opera Arianna (1608) she sang the role of Venus and in the grandly conceived tourney Mercurio e Marte, by the same composer, performed in Parma in 1628, she played Aurora. Her contemporaries especially appreciated her mastery of the bella maniera, as well as the indescribable charm of her singing.
      Working at the court of Mantua, Ghivizzani was in close touch with Monteverdi. With Salomon Rossi and Muzio Effrem, Ghivizzani helped Monteverdi to write the music for La Maddalena (1617), a play by Giovanni Battista Andreini. He was employed mainly as a singer and, together with his wife, worked at the courts of Florence, Mantua, Lucca, and Parma.
      Jacopo Peri was not only an outstanding singer but also a pioneer in the composition of monody with continuo accompaniment. Nicknamed ‘Zazzerino’ because of his blond-red hair, he was a member of the Camerata, an important circle of humanist intellectuals in Florence. On this CD we have a uniquely preserved fragment of his opera Iole ed Ercole (1628) – Iole’s lamento, a setting of a text by Andrea Salvadori. This composition is also excellent evidence of the connection between words and music, which was actually one of the reasons for the gradual retreat from polyphonic vocal compositions to the benefit of monody.
      The whole manuscript is thus also a collection of largely unique verse. It illustrates the diversity of poetic forms (including the madrigal, the canzone, the canzonetta, and the sonnetto), the expressed ‘affections’, and dramatic situations. These had a considerable influence also on forming the music. It is not by chance that this symbiosis is described by the renowned poet Giambattisto Marino in his epic L’Adone (1623): ‘Music and Poetry are two sisters,/ Comforters of the careworn,/ Able with sweet verse to calm,/ The tempests of dark thoughts.’

Miloslav Študent

further recordings by these artists:

© Studio Svengali, March 2018
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