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Canzonetta spiritual sopra alla nanna - Hor ch’è tempo di dormire

Tarquinio Merula (b. 1595 - d. 1665)

Maria Keohane (photo credit: Göran Persson)

Maria Keohane (photo credit: Göran Persson)

Composer
Tarquinio Merula (b. 1595 - d. 1665)
Composition Year
1638
Artists
Maria Keohane [soprano], Kate Hearne [cello], Fredrik Bock [lute]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

Unlike the light-hearted Su la Cetera amorosa, this work is part of the tradition of miniature dramatic scenes or rappresentazioni sacre. This particular work is a shorter canzonetta that explores in almost brutal fashion the connection between the birth of Christ and his Passion, it is a cradle song with a difference.

Mary sings a cradle song for her newborn son while breast-feeding him, but this song assumes she has the terrible knowledge of her child’s fate so her song becomes a lament where she abandons herself to harrowing visions of his future suffering. The rocking motion as she cradles her child is represented by an unusual ground bass in triple time that uses only two notes; it seems to lull Mary into a trance-like state. She gazes at the features of her new-born son and sees instead his hands and feet pierced by nails, his head torn by thorns and his side stabbed by a spear. Eventually the baby sleeps and the mother grows silent.

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Canzonetta spiritual sopra alla nanna - Hor ch’è tempo di dormire

Composer: Tarquinio Merula (b. 1595 - d. 1665)
Performance date: Sunday 29th June 2014
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Tarquinio Merula (b. 1595 - d. 1665)
Work Title Canzonetta spiritual sopra alla nanna - Hor ch’è tempo di dormire
Composition Year 1638
Artist(s) Maria Keohane [soprano], Kate Hearne [cello], Fredrik Bock [lute]
Performance Date Sunday 29th June 2014
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Coffee Concert
Duration 00:08:51
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTE
Instrumentation Category Trio
Instrumentation S-solo, vc, lu
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

Unlike the light-hearted Su la Cetera amorosa, this work is part of the tradition of miniature dramatic scenes or rappresentazioni sacre. This particular work is a shorter canzonetta that explores in almost brutal fashion the connection between the birth of Christ and his Passion, it is a cradle song with a difference.

Mary sings a cradle song for her newborn son while breast-feeding him, but this song assumes she has the terrible knowledge of her child’s fate so her song becomes a lament where she abandons herself to harrowing visions of his future suffering. The rocking motion as she cradles her child is represented by an unusual ground bass in triple time that uses only two notes; it seems to lull Mary into a trance-like state. She gazes at the features of her new-born son and sees instead his hands and feet pierced by nails, his head torn by thorns and his side stabbed by a spear. Eventually the baby sleeps and the mother grows silent.