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The evolution of instrumental music in the mid 17th Century

The Italian 17th century was a period of change in music. This can be perceived in the letters, the treatises, the fervour with which the new theories and the birth of the basso continuo are supported. Therefore, it is not enough just to read the written music to interpret its spirit. On the contrary, the more one delves into the research, the more one observes that the living practice of the music and the way of notating it are quite different, because there is no way to relate the life of a sound: the notes are stones, inert objects to construct with, laid down for centuries on a sheet of paper, as evidence of a landscape that no longer exists and that must be recreated.

The programme mixes pieces with extremely different approaches: from the meditative rationality of certain sonatas or songs to the rhythmic, interpretative and therefore improvisational power of the dances. The third element is the rule-free composition that avoids being classified as a particular musical genre and calls itself 'stylus phantasticus': the sonatas by Bertali and Valentini are an example of this.

The programme sections are dedicated to different composers. The first is dedicated to Biagio Marini, a prolific composer from the Venetian area who devoted three of his published collections of music to instrumental music. He is considered one of the first experimenters in technical and harmonic fields: he is the first to notice the effect of the tremolo, in the Foscarina, and to write double stops for the violin. Giovanni Valentini and Antonio Bertali share a similar history: they were born in Italy but made their careers in Austria: Bertali was in fact Valentini's successor in Vienna as Kapellmeister. Many of their compositions are preserved in manuscript form in the Rost Codex and the Ludwig PartiturBuch, two manuscript collections. Of Andrea Falconieri, born in Naples at the height of Spanish rule, only a collection of instrumental works with evocative and imaginative titles is preserved. Tarquinio Merula lived in Lombardy with a short interlude in Poland and published instrumental music mainly in the form of songs, vocally based in the incipit but with clear instrumental sections.

Tarquinio Merula (1595-1665) - La Pusterla, Canzoni da suonare, op 17

Biagio Marini (1594-1663) - Sinfonia del Terzo Tuono, Per ogni sorta di strumento musicale, op. 22

Biagio Marini (1594-1663) - La Foscarina. Sonata a 3 con il Tremolo, Affetti Musicali, op. 1


Si sona passacaglie…

Giovanni Valentini (1582-1649), Sonata a 2 n. 33, Rost Codex

Giovanni Valentini (1582-1649), Aria a 2 violini n. 18, Rost Codex


Andrea Falconieri (1585-1656) - Fantasia echa para el muy Reverendo Padre Falla, Il primo libro di canzoni, sinfonie, fantasie

Andrea Falconieri (1585-1656) - Alemana detta la Ciriculia, Il primo libro di canzoni, sinfonie, fantasie

Andrea Falconieri (1585-1656) - Bayle de los dichos diabolos, Il primo libro di canzoni, sinfonie, fantasie


Si sona ciaccone…

Antonio Bertali (1605-1669) - Sonata 38, Ludwig Partiturbuch

Tarquinio Merula (1595-1665) - Ciaccona, Canzoni overo sonate concertate per chiesa e camera, Op.12


Violins of Spanish Italy

The programme offers a journey through Italian instrumental music of the 17th century. Naples and Milan were under Spanish rule from the middle of the 16th century, forming part of the immense kingdom that Emperor Charles V divided into families: the political and cultural hegemony of the Spanish officially ended in 1713. Taken from a literary point of view, the music performed is essentially the soundtrack to the famous 19th century Italian novel - I Promessi Sposi - a cornerstone of Italian literature and set in 1630 in Milan.

The composer most present in the programme is Andrea Falconieri, of whom only one collection of instrumental works survives, Il primo libro di canzoni, sinfonie, fantasie, capricci, brandi, correnti (1650) in which he mixes Italian and Spanish styles. The motet Vere languores nostros by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) is taken from Spanish literature to offer a diminished version in the Italian manner. Another essential Baroque composer is Diego Ortiz, who was Spanish by birth but worked in Naples and published his Tratado de Glosas in Rome. Pietro Andrea Ziani was a Neapolitan by adoption, as he emigrated from Venice, probably because of the disappointment of not having been able to take the place of his master, Francesco Cavalli, as director of the chapel of San Marco. Only a few collections of sonatas have come down to us from him. Deviating slightly from the centre of the programme is the imaginative sonata by Francesco Turini, from Brescia and therefore under Venetian influence, taken from the Primo Libro di Madrigali (1621).

We then move to Milan, celebrating the little-known Cesare Negri, nicknamed "il Trombone", who published Nuove Inventioni di Balli (1604), a treatise on dance with tablature music for lute. Giovanni Paolo Cima's Concerti Ecclesiastici (1610) are among the first compositions for religious use composed for basso continuo, and in which there is evidence of a composition written expressly for violin and violone. The programme ends with Agostino Guerrieri, born in Milan but working in Genoa, where he published the Sonate di violino a 1, 2, 3 e 4, Op. 1 and Carlo Ambrogio Lonati, whose trio compositions were never published and are still preserved in the National Library of Turin in Italy.

Cesare Negri (1535-1605) - La Catena d'Amore, Nuove Inventioni di Balli

Giovanni Paolo Cima (1570-1622) - Sonata a 3, Concerti Ecclesiastici


Pietro Andrea Ziani (1616-1684) - Sonata II op. 7

Andrea Falconieri (1585-1656) - Bayle de los dichos Diabolos, Il primo libro di canzoni


Diego Ortiz (1510-1576) - Recercada Primera y Septima, Tratado de Glosas

Francesco Turini (1590-1656) - Sonata a doi violini. Secondo tuono, Primo Libro di Madrigali


Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) - Vere languores nostros

Andrea Falconieri (1585-1656) - Tiple à 3. Alemana detta la Ciriculia, Il primo libro di canzoni


Andrea Falconieri (1585-1656) - Sinfonia quarta, Il primo libro di canzoni

Agostino Guerrieri (1630-1684) - Sonata La Pietra, Sonate di violino Op. 1

Carlo Ambrogio Lonati (1645-1715) – Sonata a 3, en do major



In a cultural environment such as that of Italy at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, it was good practice for anyone wishing to learn an art to copy from the masters. In this process, the apprentice was pushed to enter a craft, a living art based on a language shared by an entire community. That is, he was driven to learn to speak the same language that all the other artists in his environment spoke. No wonder then that a large part of the creative process involved the use of the same material, a basis established by tradition and community on which the individual artist could express his individuality.

The aim of this programme is to investigate this practice of the reuse and recycling of thesame materials by different composers in this period, a practice that was the protagonist ofa significant part of this musical repertoire. We have used historical examples to do this. Salomone Rossi's sonata sopra 'È tanto tempo hormai' and Biagio Marini's sonata sopra 'LaMonica' use the same theme, whose origins are in traditional or folk music, nicknamed 'LaMonica'. Francesco Turini in his sonata 'Il Corisino' offers a personal interpretation of the theme known as 'La Bella Pedrina', while Antonio Bertali and Tarquinio Merula are paired through their variations on the very same Chaconne bass.

Alongside the historical examples, we have added another interpretation of the concept of'recycling in music' in the form of composition and arrangement 'in style'. Following acommon practice of the time, 'Vere Languores', a vocal piece by Tomas Luis De Victoria, ishere rendered in an instrumental version through the use of diminutions written by the performers themselves. Cesare Negri's 'Catena d'Amore' is a Renaissance dance originallywritten for the lute, rearranged here for two soprano instruments and basso continuo. Similarly, the variations on the dance known as 'La Ciriculia' by Andrea Falconieri are of the performers' own invention.

Once we had established this dialogue between the contemporary and the past spanning four centuries, we went further into the realm of composition 'in style', or neo-baroquecomposition. The sonata on ''Dale Campeón'' by Marco Crosetto is a tribute and homage toBiagio Marini while Crosetto's ''Ballo detto Scutule'' is inspired by the dances of TarquinioMerula. The "Sinfonia grave" by Gianluca Geremia is inspired by the compositional style ofSalomone Rossi's symphonies while the "Bicinium for two sopranos" and the "Bicinia VI andIX" take their cue from the compositions for his voices by Orlando di Lasso. Finally, 'LaParuta e sua Sinfonia' and 'Sonatina a tre' are freely inspired.

Cesare Negri: Catena d'amore

Marco Crosetto: Ballo detto Scutule

Gianluca Geremia: Sinfonia grave

Francesco Turini: Il Corisino


Gianluca Geremia: Bicinia VI-IX

Gianluca Geremia: Sonatina a 3

Salomone Rossi/Biagio Marini: sonata sopra "È tanto tempo hormai"/ sonata sopra "LaMonica"


Tomás Luis de Victoria: Vere Languores

Gianluca Geremia: La Paruta e sua Sinfonia

Andrea Falconieri: La Ciriculia


Gianluca Geremia: Bicinium a due soprani

Marco Crosetto: sonata sopra "Dale Campeón"

Antonio Bertali/Tarquinio Merula: Ciaccona



The music in this programme shapes a portrait of colours and atmospheres found in the early 1600s in Italy. It is a music of originality, unpredictability, extravagance, experimentation, and great freedom - qualities held dear by La Vaghezza. We have included several of the most influential composers of the period, while also seeking to highlight repertoire that has not been widely recorded. The musical forms chosen (sonate, balli, etc) aim to provide an overview of the musical landscape of the time.

The 1600s saw the musical score become a more complex animal than in the previous century, and yet much of the music’s detail was not written into the score, but rather left to the sensibility of the performer. Great importance was given to the graces, ornaments, improvisations and diminutions that the performer would add. The scores that have been handed down to us through the ages are the skeleton, the bones, to be fleshed out and given blood by the performer as they weave their own into the music.

Roger North talked beautifully about this process in his autobiography, maintaining that the sound a musician produces must then be sculpted, carved, by means of graces and ornaments. It is from this idea that we took inspiration for the title of this programme, Sculpting the Fabric. The historical practices of carving the fabric in this musical period, are an invitation for performers to keep reinventing this music, for each utterance of the music to be a creative act.

- T. Merula (1595-1665) Ballo detto Eccardo, “Canzoni overo sonate concertate per chiesa e camera”

- F. Cavalli (1602-1676) Canzona a 3, “Musiche Sacre”

- T. Merula Ballo detto Gennaro, “Canzoni overo sonate concertate per chiesa e camera”


- C. Monteverdi (1567-1643) Cor mio non mori? E mori (diminutions by Mayah Kadish)

- G. B. Fontana (1589-1630) Sonata Settima, “Sonate a 1, 2, 3 per il violin o cornetto, fagotto…o  simile altro istromento”


- B. Marini (1594-1663) La Zorzi

- G.B. Vitali (1632-1692) Bergamasca, “Partite sopra diverse sonate”

- F. Turini (1589-1656) Sonata a doi violini. Secondo tuono


- A. Gabrieli (1533-1585) “Giovane donna sott’un verde lauro” (diminutions by Ignacio Ramal)

- S. Rossi (1570-1630) Sinfonia Nona, “Sinfonie et gagliarde, Libro primo”

- A. Falconieri (1585-1656) Folias echa para mi Senora Dona Tarolilla de Carallenos, “Il primo libro  di canzone, sinfonie, fantasie…”

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