Le Novellette a sei voci
The musical intermedi of the 16th century comedy.
Compositions by Simone Balsamino.
Although published after 1594, Simone Balsamino's 'Le Novellette a sei voci' had been composed many years before that, according to the dedication on the frontispiece of the manuscript. Most probably, 'Le Novellette' accompanied the stage production of Torquato Tasso's 'Aminta', performed in the Duchy of Urbino, during the carnival time of 1574. It was according to the custom of inserting musical pieces – the intermedi – between two successive acts of a comedy.
'Le Novellette' consist of twenty madrigals, seventeen of which are composed for the passages from 'Aminta'. Precisely speaking, sixteen of them recount the entire third scene of the second act (the dialogue between Tirsi and Aminta), and the remaining one covers the second scene of the same act (the Satyr's monologue). The other three madrigals, however, are based upon the writings of Battista Guarini ('Non più guerra) and Francesco Beccuti ('Locar sopra gli abissi'). The author of the text of the last madrigal, 'Canto e piango', is unknown.
download: NOVELLETTE A SEI VOCI
The Lordship of Rimini and the dawn of the Renaissance.
Music by Guillaume Dufay and Hugo de Lentinis.
Guillaume Dufay, born in Borgogna around 1400, was one of the most significant composers of the fifteenth century.
After the first years of his musical education in the Cambrai cathedral, he travelled to Italy (as we know from a few documents confirming his journeys). He worked, then, at the Court of Pandolfo III Malatesta, and in 1422 he settled down in Fano, where, supposedly, he was the first in Italy to establish a formal group of regular musicians.
Three of Dufay's compositions date back to this period, all of them dedicated to the Malatesta family. The first one is 'Vasilissa, ergo gaude', a motet composed on the occasion of the wedding of Cleofe Malatesta and Teodoro II Paleologo, lord of Peloponnese. The second is 'Resvelliès vous', a ballad celebrating the marriage of Vittoria Colonna, the granddaughter of Pope Martin V, and Carlo Malatesta; and finally, the third one, motet 'Apostolo Glorioso', composed in 1426 to honour Pandolfo Malatesta, who was nominated as bishop of Patrasso.
To that period belongs also the set of seven Italian songs, including the most famous one, 'Vergine Bella', based upon the first stanza of Petrarca's poem.
Among the dedicatory ballads, we also find 'Tra Quante Regione' by the Flemish composer Hugo de Lentilis, a friend of Dufay. He was also well known at the Malatesta Court. The ballad, praising Cleofe Malatesta's extraordinary beauty and nobility, celebrates the princess' wedding, which took place on the 21st of January 1421.
download: DE MALATESTE
Nuptiae Factae Sunt
Music of Urbino in the times of Raphael. Medici Codex of 1518
Music by Willaert, Brumel, Mouton, J. Des Prez.
The programme 'Nuptiae Factae Sunt' brings up a number of most beautiful excerpts from the Medici Codex of 1518 – a music book dedicated and presented as a gift to Lorenzo de' Medici (who was Duke of Urbino for four years).
The Medici Codex was probably compiled by Johannes Mouton – a master of the renowned School of Paris. Hence, it conveys the names and works of all the composers associated with the School, including also one Italian – Costanzo Festa.
Among the musical pieces, we find several 'Deplorations' or, in other words, lamentations on the deaths of famous men. One lamentation, 'Nymphes des Bois', is dedicated to a renowned musician, Ockeghem.
A significant part of the pieces included in the manuscript was written for four or five voices (though there are also two pieces for six voices and one even for eight).
The choice regarding the interpretation and the production points, most of all, towards the priority of voice joined by organs, with only several instrumental interventions of bassa and alta cappella.
download: NUPTIAE FACTAE SUNT
La Dolce Vista
Music from the Court of Federico da Montefeltro. Codex Urb. Lat. 1411
Compositions by Dufay, Binchois, Ciconia, anonymous
'There is something in this concert that condensely encloses a whole week of the musical afternoons in the Court of Urbino.' [J.Haar]
The 'Chansons', 'Rondeaux', and 'Ballate', collected in a small musical manuscript referred to as Codex Urb.Lat.1411, were brought together in the 1440s in Florence. In the 60s, the Codex found its way to the Court of Urbino, and there, it was given a new life and renewed means of interpretation.
Now, the musical pieces of the Codex come back to us thanks to the intense interpretation of the Ensemble Bella Gerit. The Ensemble itself is based in Urbino, where this music was originally performed, for instance, in the glorious Ducal Palace, and in other historic sites of the town.
The enterprising musicians of the Ensemble have employed various combinations of the vocal and instrumental sound. Thanks to this, they evoke all the shades of diverse possibilities offered by these songs – so innocently enclosed in a modest, small musical book.
download: LA DOLCE VISTA
Church music by the Florentine masters of the fifteenth century. Codex Urb. Lat. 1419
Music by Gherardello da Firenze, Lorenzo da Firenze, Donato da Cascia, anonymous.
In this concert we recall the sacral music from a fifteenth century manuscript Urb.Lat.1419. The manuscript, incomplete as it is, resembles a draft or a sketch – just like a preparatory study for a painting.
It conveys to us the works – mainly sacral, but with several profane exceptions – of two great masters of the Late Middle Ages: Gherardello da Firenze and Lorenzo da Firenze, complemented also by works of anonymous composers from the end of the fourteenth century.
For the purpose of this concert, we decided to reconstruct and assemble a Missa Singulari – a hypothetical 'ordinarium missae'. It consists of loose fragments from the codex: the splendid 'Kyrie Rondellus' and powerful 'Gloria' by Gherardello, followed by Lorenzo's 'Sanctus'.
These musical pages of exquisite beauty are brought back to life by the virtuosity of the performance, placing them into the completed background of a musical liturgical service. All this allowed us to constitute the rarest example of an archaic polyphonic mass in the pre-Renaissance Italian style.
download: MISSA SINGULARI