About this Recording
8.553320 - Lamenti Barocchi, Vol. 3

Lamenti Barocchi V 01

Lamenti Barocchi Vol. III (Baroque Laments Vol. 3)


Soloists of the Cappella Musicale di S. Petronio

Sergio Vartolo


Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567 - 1643)

[l] Lamento d' Arianna

Pietro Antonio GIRAMO (fl.1619 - after 1630)

[2] Lamento della Pazza

Barbara STROZZI (1619 - 1664)

[3] Lamento del Marchese Cinq-Mars

Giacomo CARISSIMI (1605 - 1674)

[4] Lamento della Regina Maria Stuarda

Antonio CESTI (1623 - 1669)

[5] Lamento della Madre Ebrea

Luigi ROSSI (1598 - 1653)

[6] Lamento della Regina di Svezia


Soloists of the Cappella Musicale di San Petronio

[1] Anna Caterina Antonacci, soprano

[2] Anna Caterina Antonacci, soprano

[3] Anna Caterina Antonacci, soprano ; Alessandro Cannignani, tenor

[4] Marinella Pennicchi, soprano ; Alessandro Cannignani, tenor

[5] Anna Caterina Antonacci, soprano ; Testo: Alessandro Cannignani, tenor

[6] Marinella Pennicchi, soprano; Fortuna: Patrizia Vaccari, soprano; Messaggero: Alessandro Cannignani, tenor; Testo: Furio Zanasi, baritone


Violins: Enrico Casazza, Isabella Longo

Viola da gamba : Bet tina Hoffmann

Chitarrone, theorbo: Andrea Damiani

Chitarrone, cittem, colascione, chitarrino: Federico Marincola

Clavicembalo and direction: Sergio Vartolo



The Baroque lament has its origins in the culture of ancient Greece and its Roman imitators. Aristotle's theory of catharsis, the purification of the emotions through the excitement of pity and fear by events worthy of such feelings, and Plato's views on the subject, as expressed in The Republic, found their reflection in the aesthetic theories of the sixteenth century. The lament should arouse feelings of pity, while at the same time suggesting the fashionable humour of melancholy, one of the four psychological states of ancient and later medical theory. Greek tragedy offers its own examples of the lament and nearer to hand were the popular and accessible Heroides of Ovid, plaintive letters from abused heroines of legend, Dido deserted by Aeneas, Penelope left alone for so long by Odysseus, Medea betrayed by Jason. The lament became a current and important feature of Italian Baroque monody, with its rhetorical and therefore dramatic connotations, generally set over a four-note descending bass-line. The best known of all these laments, although not the earliest, must be Monteverdi's Lamento d'Arianna, a later version of which, with a sacred Latin text, was included in the composer's Selva morale e spirituale published in Venice in 1641 (Naxos 8.553318: Lamenti Barocchi Vol. 1). In 1607 Monteverdi had provided music for a favola in musica staged at the court of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga in Mantua, where the composer was maestro di cappella. Orfeo, with a libretto by Alessandro striggio, has one literary source in the Metamorphoses of Ovid. The success of Orfeo led, in 1608, to the devising of a new dramatic work, a tragedia in musica, a conscious attempt, as the pastoral Orfeo was not, to provide a work that should to some extent revive the ancient Greek art of tragedy. With a libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini, a Florentine courtier who, under the sobriquet II Sonnacchioso (The Sleepy One), had since 1586 been a member of the Florence Accademia degli Alterati, the tragedy in music Arianna treats the story of the Cretan princess Ariadne. Having helped the Athenian Theseus to escape from her father, King Minos, the labyrinth and the bull-monster, the Minotaur, she was abandoned by her lover on the seemingly deserted island of Naxos. Her distress, expressed in the famous Lamento d'Arianna, is given in poignant and moving music that found immediate popularity, copied elsewhere, issued by Monteverdi as a five- voice madrigal in 1614 and in 1623 as a monody. There is a happy ending to the opera through the intervention of Venus and Amor and the appearance of a deus ex machina in the person of Bacchus, whose union with Ariadne had been depicted so memorably in 1523 by Titian. While Rinuccini's libretto of Arianna survives, the music does not, except for the lament itself. The tragedy was performed at the wedding festivities in Mantua for the marriage of Prince Francesco, son of the reigning Duke, and Margherita of Savoy, together with a number of other works, including Monteverdi and Rinuccini's II ballo delle ingrate (Naxos 8.553322). The lament, according to an account of the proceedings by Federico Follino, was acted with so much feeling and in so piteous a manner that no-one who heard it was left unmoved, there was not a single lady who did not cry a little at her beautiful plaint.


Pietro Antonio Giramo is a relatively minor figure in Italian music of the early Baroque. While Monteverdi achieved a reputation uncomfortably enough at the court of Mantua, followed by some thirty years as master of the music of the basilica of San Marco in Venice, Giramo, whose date of birth is unknown, seems to have spent his life in Naples. A volume of Arie was published in 1630, apparently in Naples, as was the collection under the title II pazzo con la pazza, ristampata, et Uno hospedale per gl'infermi d'amore (The Madman with the Madwoman, reprinted, and A Hospital for the Love-sick). The date 1630 provides, at least, a terminus ante quem, since his death occurred, presumably, after that date. The Lamento della pazza (Madwoman's Lament) is of considerable interest in its treatment of the subject, a woman driven mad by unrequited love, a patient to be cured by the music Giramo offers.


The Lamento del Marchese Cinq-Mars by Barbara strozzi turns to the kind of subject that provided material for laments by the middle of the seventeenth century, based on modern or earlier historical events. Barbara Strozzi herself was the adopted daughter of the poet and playwright Giulio Strozzi, himself the illegitimate son of the Venetian banker Roberto Strozzi, a member of the distinguished Florentine family of that name. She was born in Venice in 1619 and was a pupil of Cavalli, winning a reputation both as a singer and as a composer. Her presence was important for the meetings of the Accademia degli Unisoni at the house of Giulio Strozzi, whose enemies accused him of pimping for her, regretting Monteverdi's occasional connection with the Accademia. He served, however, as a librettist for Monteverdi and for others, while Barbara Strozzi appears as a composer of some ability. She died in Venice in 1664. Her Lamento del Marchese Cinq-Mars is attributed to the French royal favourite the Marquis de Cinq-Mars, accused of treason and put to death by Louis XIII in 1642, as his reign and his own life drew to a close. Henri d'Effiat, Marquis de Cinq-Mars, was introduced to the French royal household in 1638 at the age of eighteen, when he was appointed Master of the King's Wardrobe, a position that enabled him to extend his own wardrobe to some 52 suits. In 1639 he became Grand Master of the Horse, known now as Monsieur le Grand, an intimate of the King, in spite of childish sulking and quarrels. He joined the opponents of Cardinal Richelieu in a conspiracy against the King and was arrested for treachery in Narbonne, imprisoned in Montpellier and tried in Lyon. After betraying one of his co-conspirators, he was executed.


Giacomo Carissimi has a very much more considerable continuing reputation. Born at Marino, near Rome, in 1605, he served as a chorister and later organist at Tivoli Cathedral before his appointment in 1629 as maestro di cappe/1a at the German College in Rome, an institution run by the Society of Jesus and therefore imbued with the principles of the Catholic Reformation. He retained this position until his death in 1674, refusing an invitation to San Marco in Venice after the death of Monteverdi in 1643. He was given in 1656 the title of maestro di cappe/1a del concerto di camera to the now Catholic Queen Christina of Sweden. Carissimi's compositions include, necessarily, a quantity of liturgical music, significant contributions to the genre of Italian oratorio and a series of Italian cantatas. His Lamento della Regina Maria Stllarda recalls the execution of the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots by her Protestant cousin, Queen Elisabeth I of England. At the time of Carissimi's composition in about 1650, this event was particularly topical, in view of the recent execution of her grandson, the English King Charles I. The dramatic intensity of the Lamento impressed even Dr Burney, who elsewhere had praised Carissimi's elegance, but preferred Purcell's variety.


The reputation of Antonio Cesti rests very largely on his fourteen or fifteen operas and a series of secular cantatas. Perhaps at one time a pupil of Carissimi, Cesti was born in Arezzo in 1623 and had his musical training in Rome, where he also had lessons with Luigi Rossi. He joined the Franciscan order and spent some time as organist and maestro di cappella at the cathedral in Volterra, where he enjoyed first the patronage of the Medici family and developed connections with the Florentine Accademia dei Percossi. It was ironical that his career should have centred so much on the opera- house, in spite of his religious vocation, a conflict noted by some of his contemporaries, although such things never seem to have bothered composers of a later generation, such as the secular priest Vivaldi. In 1652 Cesti moved to Innsbruck, in the service of Archduke Ferdinand Karl. Released from his vows as a religious by Pope Alexander VII, who intended to employ him in Rome, he nevertheless returned to Innsbruck, after an interlude in Florence for the wedding of Cosimo de' Medici, and on the death of his patron's immediate .successor there moved to Vienna, charged with the composition and mounting of new operas. He died in 1669 in Florence, where he had been newly appointed maestro di cappella. From 1649 he had had connections with Venice and the theatres there, with a first production in that year of his successful opera Orontea. The cantata La Madre Ebrea (The Hebrew Mother) presents the predicament of a starving Jewish mother, forced by hunger to kill her own child, as the armies of the Roman Emperor Titus besiege Jerusalem, before the capture of the city and the destruction of the Temple. The text cannot resist the final suggestion that such conduct is to be expected of a Jewish mother, a reflection on the prejudices of the time.


The last of the laments included here is by that master of the form, the Roman composer Luigi Rossi, a leading figure in the vocal music of his time. Rossi was born at Torremaggiore about the year 1597 and studied in Naples, where he spent some years in the service, it would seem, of Prince Paolo de Sangro. He later entered the service of the Borghese family in Rome, becoming organist of the church of S Luigi dei Francesi in 1633 and retaining this position until his death twenty years later. From 1641 he was in the service of the Barberini family in Rome and it was for Cardinal Antonio Barberini that he wrote his very successful opera Il palazzo incantato (The Enchanted Palace), a work of more than Wagnerian length. A second opera, Orfeo, was written for performance in Paris at the desire of Cardinal Mazarin. The expense of the production did nothing to endear Mazarin to the populace, who in 1648 forced the court to take refuge outside the capital. Rossi's Lamento della Regina di Svezia is a characteristic work, attributing feelings, it must be presumed, to the wife of Gustavus Adolphus, rather than to the five-year-old daughter, Queen Christina, who succeeded him. The Swedish king, the so-called Lion of the North, was killed at Lutzen on 6th November 1632 in conflict with Austria and supported by the French Cardinal Richelieu. The work was commissioned by the young Mazarin for performance before the politician whom he would duly succeed in 1643. Queen Christina was to relinquish her throne at the age of 27, to become a Catholic and settle in Rome, where she held sway as a leading patron of the arts. In the lament, the Swedish Queen refers to the circumstances of the King's death and longs herself to die.

Close the window