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Love, Lust and Lamentations: Lettera Amorosa

Claudio Monteverdi (b. 1567 - d. 1643)

Mike Fentross

Mike Fentross

Composer
Claudio Monteverdi (b. 1567 - d. 1643)
Composition Year
1594-1665
Work Movements
Lettera Amorosa Scen 1: Se i languidi miei sguardi
Tarquinio Merula [1594-1665] Sentirete una Canzonetta
Lettera Amorosa Scen 2: Non è già parte in voi
Bellerofonte Castaldi [1581-1649] Cromatica corrente
Francesco Rasi [1574-1621] Indarno Febo
Piccinini - Toccata XI
Monteverdi - Lettera Amorosa Scen 3: Voi, voi capelli d’oro
Merula - Folle e ben
Monteverdi: Lettera Amorosa Scen 4 - Cara mia selva d’oro
Giovanni Kapsberger [1580-1651] Kapsberger from Libro quarto d
Monteverdi - Lettera Amorosa Scen 5: Dolcissimi legami
Merula - Chi vol che m’innamori
Monteverdi: Lettera Amorosa Scen 6 - Ma gia? l’ora m’invita
Artists
Maria Keohane [soprano], Mike Fentross [chitarrone]

Programme Note Writer:
© Kate Hearne

In an outpouring of emotion, Lettera Amorosa, the faithful messenger of affection, expresses all the sentiments of loving from afar... bleeding hearts, beauty, fire, golden rain...the ramblings of a soul lost in the labyrinth of love. Despite the deprivation of a scenic context, Monteverdi manages to evoke a real sense of drama in this love letter. It is written in genre rappresentativo, calling for a declamatory style that avoids all rhythmic rigidity, something which was still quite new to audiences in the early 17th century, and certainly had never been experimented with to such an extent outside the safe haven of the courtly opera world. Today the love letter is split into scenes, broken up by musical commentaries reflecting the sentiments. The first of these is Merula’s Sentirete una Canzonetta, a sensual and flirtatious song based on the teasing nature of love, portraying aspects of the folk tradition in its rhythmic drive and simple harmonic structure. With its mention of golden hair ensnaring the heart, it leads nicely into the second scene of Lettera Amorosa.

Our next interlude introduces the poet, lutenist and composer Bellerofonte Castaldi, his Cromatica corrente weaving an intricate harmonic tale as our story unfolds. Rasi’s Indarno Febo returns to a darker mood, questioning the sustainability of love when parted. Rasi was best known for his virtuoso singing voice, but his books of songs are among the first collections of monody that we possess. Piccinini’s Toccata XI for chitarrone solo leads us into the third scene of Monteverdi’s Lettera Amorosa.

Despite his Austrian name, Kapsberger was born and educated in Venice. During his lifetime he gained the reputation as being a brilliant virtuoso of the lute, and after settling in Rome in 1605 he began to write and publish multiple collections for the instrument. Although the lute was in favour at the time as being the instrument of choice to accompany the new genre of the monodic song, Kapsberger was the one responsible for ensuring that the lute, theorbo and chitarrone all had bright futures as solo instruments in their own right. Kapsberger’s ground, aptly named Kapsberger after himself, displays an innovative view of harmonic contrasts and rhythmic ingenuity which earned him much respect in his lifetime.

As with the two previous songs by Merula, his final work in our programme is taken from Curtio precipiitato, a collection of solo songs with continuo published in 1638. Merula and his older contemporary Monteverdi definitely influenced each other in many respects throughout their careers, and in the case of Chi vuol ch’io m’innamori, both composers set the text to music, Merula publishing his version first. The text examines the transiency of life and the inevitability of death, questioning how we live and love, in a slightly despondent manner. There is no happy ending to our little pastiche on love. 

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Love, Lust and Lamentations: Lettera Amorosa

Composer: Claudio Monteverdi (b. 1567 - d. 1643)
Performance date: Tuesday 30th June 2015
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Claudio Monteverdi (b. 1567 - d. 1643)
Work Title Love, Lust and Lamentations: Lettera Amorosa
Composition Year 1594-1665
Work Movements Lettera Amorosa Scen 1: Se i languidi miei sguardi
Tarquinio Merula [1594-1665] Sentirete una Canzonetta
Lettera Amorosa Scen 2: Non è già parte in voi
Bellerofonte Castaldi [1581-1649] Cromatica corrente
Francesco Rasi [1574-1621] Indarno Febo
Piccinini - Toccata XI
Monteverdi - Lettera Amorosa Scen 3: Voi, voi capelli d’oro
Merula - Folle e ben
Monteverdi: Lettera Amorosa Scen 4 - Cara mia selva d’oro
Giovanni Kapsberger [1580-1651] Kapsberger from Libro quarto d
Monteverdi - Lettera Amorosa Scen 5: Dolcissimi legami
Merula - Chi vol che m’innamori
Monteverdi: Lettera Amorosa Scen 6 - Ma gia? l’ora m’invita
Language Italian
Artist(s) Maria Keohane [soprano], Mike Fentross [chitarrone]
Performance Date Tuesday 30th June 2015
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Coffee Concert
Duration 00:35:58
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Duo
Instrumentation S-solo, chitne
Programme Note Writer © Kate Hearne

In an outpouring of emotion, Lettera Amorosa, the faithful messenger of affection, expresses all the sentiments of loving from afar... bleeding hearts, beauty, fire, golden rain...the ramblings of a soul lost in the labyrinth of love. Despite the deprivation of a scenic context, Monteverdi manages to evoke a real sense of drama in this love letter. It is written in genre rappresentativo, calling for a declamatory style that avoids all rhythmic rigidity, something which was still quite new to audiences in the early 17th century, and certainly had never been experimented with to such an extent outside the safe haven of the courtly opera world. Today the love letter is split into scenes, broken up by musical commentaries reflecting the sentiments. The first of these is Merula’s Sentirete una Canzonetta, a sensual and flirtatious song based on the teasing nature of love, portraying aspects of the folk tradition in its rhythmic drive and simple harmonic structure. With its mention of golden hair ensnaring the heart, it leads nicely into the second scene of Lettera Amorosa.

Our next interlude introduces the poet, lutenist and composer Bellerofonte Castaldi, his Cromatica corrente weaving an intricate harmonic tale as our story unfolds. Rasi’s Indarno Febo returns to a darker mood, questioning the sustainability of love when parted. Rasi was best known for his virtuoso singing voice, but his books of songs are among the first collections of monody that we possess. Piccinini’s Toccata XI for chitarrone solo leads us into the third scene of Monteverdi’s Lettera Amorosa.

Despite his Austrian name, Kapsberger was born and educated in Venice. During his lifetime he gained the reputation as being a brilliant virtuoso of the lute, and after settling in Rome in 1605 he began to write and publish multiple collections for the instrument. Although the lute was in favour at the time as being the instrument of choice to accompany the new genre of the monodic song, Kapsberger was the one responsible for ensuring that the lute, theorbo and chitarrone all had bright futures as solo instruments in their own right. Kapsberger’s ground, aptly named Kapsberger after himself, displays an innovative view of harmonic contrasts and rhythmic ingenuity which earned him much respect in his lifetime.

As with the two previous songs by Merula, his final work in our programme is taken from Curtio precipiitato, a collection of solo songs with continuo published in 1638. Merula and his older contemporary Monteverdi definitely influenced each other in many respects throughout their careers, and in the case of Chi vuol ch’io m’innamori, both composers set the text to music, Merula publishing his version first. The text examines the transiency of life and the inevitability of death, questioning how we live and love, in a slightly despondent manner. There is no happy ending to our little pastiche on love.