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La Musica
16th &17th Century Composers & Julie Kabat

Texts, translations, pictures and a rubbing of a medallion of Caccini are included in CD booklet.


Allegorical figures, as figures having no individual identity but rather used to symbolize moral or other abstract ideas, have existed in Western culture at least from the time of ancient Greece. "Music," for example, is present as such a symbol in both Greek drama and philosophy. Whatever the context, wherever "Music" appeared, she was understood to represent a specific and unchanging concept.

Then in the renaissance and baroque periods allegorical figures began to be given an emblematic value. "La Musica" in early operas takes on a highly individual character given to it by both the librettist and the composer, as demonstrated, for example, in the use of her personage in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo. Her emblem, or character, is defined in relation to the plot and endows it with a symbolic meaning to which the listener can relate. The transitory nature of the emblem allowed allegorical figures like "La Musica" to take on different aspects according to different situations. In recognition of this early baroque addition to her dimension, we have called this recording "La Musica."

Francesca Caccini (1587-ca.1640) was an extremely versatile artist--a virtuosic singer, lutenist, guitarist, harpsichordist, poetess and composer. She and her sister Settimia were the daughters of the famous composer-singer-theorist Giulio Caccini and the singer Lucia Caccini. Although Francesca spent most of her life in Florence, she traveled widely. She was well-known by the French Court in Paris, having made her singing debut at the wedding of Maria de Medici to Henri IV, King of France in 1600. She became a musician for the Medici Court in 1607 and by 1613 was one of the highest-paid musicians in Florence.

When her husband died In 1625, Caccini married a Florentine senator and began her own school of singing and composition. Her students became known as the scuola and were noted for their style of setting words to music in the particular Florentine monody style.

Caccini married another musician, Giovanni Battista Signorini, but it was she who was the more famous and sought after. In 1618 her Primo Libro delle Musiche a una, e due voci was published in Florence, a publication which gained her wide respect as a composer. She then began to write large-scale operatic works. The greatest of these, La Liberazione di Ruggiero, was first performed in 1625 in Florence to celebrate the visit of King Wladislaw IV of Poland, and when it was presented in Warsaw in 1682 it became the first Italian opera to be performed in its entirety outside Italy.

Caccini was influenced by three distinct styles of music: the Florentine monody style presented by her father in his Le Nuove Musiche (1602); the highly virtuosic style of Ferrara gained by singing in her father's Florentine imitation of the Concerto delle Donne of Ferrara (an ensemble of women musicians); and the Roman style brought to the Medici Court by visiting Roman musicians.

Caccini employed great precision in her compositions in the "new" style. She wrote madrigals, canzonettas, arias, variations, musical settings of sonnets, and seven sacred works. Most of her works were composed for solo voice and basso continuo. Her music is dramatic, descriptive and affective, and employs unprepared dissonances, word painting and very precisely indicated ornamentation. She was one of the few composers of her time to indicate slurs, phrase groupings and trills where she wanted them.

Chi desia di saper' is a highly syncopated strophic canzonetta for voice and chitarra spagnola (Spanish guitar). The chordal nature of the instrument gives the piece its unique sound. La pastorella mia tra i fiori, although called a Romanesca, appears to be simply a set of four verses over a slightly varying bass line, and has none of the characteristics of the "typical" Romanesca bass line (B-flat F G D B-flat F G D G) written by Caccini's contemporaries and used even earlier as in Guardame las vacas. Perhaps it refers instead to a "Roman style" aria she had become acquainted with through visiting Roman singers and composers at the Medici Court.

Sigismondo d'India (1580-ca.1629) called himself nobile palermitano (nobleman from Palermo) on the title pages of his works. It is assumed that he spent time in Florence and Mantua between 1606 and 1611. He was Maestro della Musica di Camera at the court of Duke Carlo Emmanuel in Turin from 1611 to 1623. His last years were spent at the d'Este court in Modena. Between 1606 and 1627 he published 18 books of vocal music. Of these works, his eight books of solo songs are considered his major achievement.

D'India's highly imaginative use of seconda prattica sets him apart from his contemporaries. In the foreword to his Libro I di Monody, published in Milan in 1609, he wrote that he found a way to compose with intervalli non ordinari, passing from them to more consonant intervals depending on the meaning of the words. In doing so he could increase the song's ability to move the sentiments of the soul. He dedicated the work to the "intelligent men of music&" from whom he wrote he learned to compose polyphony and monody. La tra'l sangue à le morti, a setting of eight lines from Gerusalemme Liberata by Torquato Tasso, clearly illustrates d'India's affective use of harmonies. The piece is through composed and almost in the style of recitative.

Alessandro Piccinini (1566-ca.1638) wrote two books of music in tabulature for the archlute and the chitarrone. He had instruments constructed from his own designs. The Toccata XI and Corrente XI come from Itavolatura di Liuto et di Chitarrone, Libro Primo, published in Bologna in 1623. The book is dedicated Alla Serenissima Prencipessa [sic], l'infante di Spaga DONNA ISABELLA, Archiduchessa d'Austria. Piccinini's "lute" is an instrument with thirteen courses known from other sources as arciliuto. The tuning is:

guitar tuning 1

(Numbers 1 through 13, with repeated notes counting as one number)

Courses 1-6 [first note and the repeated pairs] are sulla tastiera ; courses 7-12 [the following single notes] are bordoni or drones, and are open strings not to be touched with the left hand. Piccinini gives a very detailed foreword to the study "to teach the manner and the mode to play well with pleasure the above mentioned instruments." He recommends plucking the lute strings with the nails (contrary to many other treatises of the time) and gives detailed rules on how to play arpeggios and graces. He also suggests forte, piano and affettuoso.

Francesca Campana (Romana) (d.1665) was a Roman virtuosic singer and composer. It appears that she was quite well known in her day, and she published a book of arias for one, two and three voices in 1629 in Rome. Like many other virtuosic singer-composers, she probably wrote the music for her own use as a performer. Pargoletta, vezzosetta, from La Risonanti Sfere, is a strophic song with a flashy ending, which appears to be a distinguishing feature of Campana's style.

Settimia Caccini (1591-ca.1638) was Francesca Caccini's youngest sister, and as a child sang with her at the Medici Court. In 1608 Settimia went to Mantua, where she sang the role of "Venus" in Monteverdi's opera Arianna, and the following year married the singer-composer-poet Alessandro Ghivizzani. Unlike Francesca, Settimia seems to have subordinated her career to her husband's. However, wherever he was hired, she apparently had no trouble finding employment as a singer. After her husband's death in 1630, she entered the court in Florence. Although the name "Settimia Ghivizzani" appears in court records until 1660, it is generally assumed that she died around 1638 and that the references are to a daughter. Unfortunately, Settimia did not publish any collection of her music. Già sperai, non spero hor' più was published in a collection of seventeenth-century works. It is a short, multisectioned aria which includes an introduction, an aria in 3, a free recitative section and an astonishingly syncopated and dramatic ending.

Fabritio Caroso (ca.1531-ca.1605) was a professor of dance. Forza d'Amore comes from his dance treatise Nobilità di Dame (Nobility of Women), published in Venice in 1605 and dedicated to various noble Italian ladies. Some of the dances were probably performed at their marriage festivities. This publication is the second revision of his Il Ballarino, originally published in 1577 and first revised In 1581. His treatise continued to be reprinted even after his death, with a fourth printing in 1630 in Rome called Raccolta di varii Balli (Collection of Various Dances), and a fifth printing in 1880 (!) in Milano, again called Nobilità di Dame. Along with Arbeau's Orchesographie (1588), it is one of the oldest printed dance treatises. The complete title of the fourth edition is Racolta di varii balli fatti in occorenze di nozze e festini, or "Collection of various dances made for marriage and parties." The pieces are written, or arranged, by Caroso in staff notation using soprano clef and bass clef and also in Italian lute tabulature. In tabulature, the bass voice is often more elaborate than in the staff notation.

The whole book is dedicated to the Duke and Duchess of Parma and of Placenza. The first dance, called Alta Regina (highly esteemed queen), is dedicated to the Serenissima Cattolica Duchessa Margarita d'Austria, Regina di Spagna, etc., who was in fact the duchess of Parma and Placenza. In addition to the music, Caroso wrote a sonnet praising her beauty. Forza d'Amore was dedicated to Leonora Orsina, who was a noblewoman and composer in her own right. A piece of hers is included In the Bottegari publication. The Caroso dances are often made up of a suite of different dances in double and triple time. They usually begin with an unnamed section in double time, continue with a Gagliarda and a Rotta and finish with a Canario or SaItarello. In this recording the lutenist repeats the Canario eight times, improvising over the primitive melody and harmonies in the manner of the chitarra spagnola with its particular strumming technique, which was very popular in seventeenth-century Italy.

The anonymous Trista sort' è la mia sorte is taken from Arie e Canzone in Musica di Cosimo Bottegari, commonly known as Bottegari's "Lute" Book, printed in Rome in 1574. Bottegari never mentioned "lute" in the manuscript, but rather "viola" which was the Italian translation for the vihuela da mano, a very popular instrument in Spain in the sixteenth century. The "viola" (or vihuela) has the shape of a guitar but its tuning and playing technique are those of the lute. Music for the "viola" was also played on the lute. The "viola" came to Italy through Spanish-ltalian court connections, and its style was popular throughout the sixteenth century.

Bottegari was employed as lutenist and singer in the Hoffmusik Kapelle in Munich from 1573 to 1581 under the composer Orlando di Lasso. Bottegari's transcriptions illustrate some of the earliest examples of homophonic lute accompaniments. The strophic song Trista sort' is very similar to the "new" seventeenth-century style, and surely was sung by singer-lutenists well into the century.

Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger (ca.1580-1651) was called "Giovanni Girolamo tedesco della tiorba" (the German of the theorbo) and also nobile alemanne (German nobleman). Kapsperger was born in Germany but came to pursue his career as a composer, theorist and lutenist in Italy: first in Venice and then, from 1610 on, in Rome, where he was in the service of Antonio Barbarini. In addition to achieving fame as a virtuoso of the theorbo, chitarrone and lute, he published four books of villanelle, two books of arie passeggiate and several books with solo music for lute and chitarrone, of which the toccatas are most remarkable. Figlio dormi comes from Libro secondo di Villanella a 1, 2 et 3 voci con l'Alfabeto per la Chitarra Spagnola, published in Rome in 1619. The alphabet referred to is a shorthand system for chords on the guitar. Due to the energetic nature of the strummed baroque guitar, we have accompanied this simple strophic lullaby with the lute instead.

Barbara Strozzi (ca.1619-1677), the Venetian singer-composer, was probably the illegitimate daughter of the poet Giulio Strozzi. She was adopted by him when she was nine, lived with him for the rest of his life, and became his sole heir. Through him and his circle of friends, Barbara Strozzi gained access to the intellectual elite of Venice. She sang in the Strozzi home to a select audience that came to be known as the Academia degli Unisoni (the group of similar thinkers). Although it was not at all usual for women to have any part in the intellectual societies of the day, she served as master of ceremonies for debates on both academic and frivolous subjects and improvised songs on the daily topic for discussion. She was eventually joined in these activities by other women musicians, and was often referred to as a highly virtuosic singer.

Although she studied with Francesco Cavalli, the foremost composer of opera of the day, she never entered the operatic world of Venice. Instead, she wrote over 100 arias and cantatas for solo voice and basso continuo. Between 1644 and 1664, she wrote eight volumes of songs that were published in Venice. Most of them were dedicated to important patrons of the arts: the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Vittoria delle Rovere; Ferdinand III of Austria and Eleanora of Mantua; Anna of Austria, Archduchess of Innsbruck; Nicolo Sagredo, Doge of Venice; and Sophia, Duchess of Braunschweig and Lunneberg. These dedications suggest that Strozzi was paid for her work and was a professional composer.

Strozzi's music displays the wide variety of musical forms used in her day: strophic arias, strophic variations, full and partial da capo arias, and multisectioned cantatas using both free recitative and arias. Tradimento!, which appeared in Strozzi's Book VII (Diporti di Euterpe) in 1659, begins with a furious introduction followed by four short sections, returning to the introduction as a da capo. Fine examples of Strozzi's use of word painting occur in this piece, such as on the words legarmi (to tie me up) and in catenarimi (to chain me up). The text was written by the poet Giovanni Tani.

Che si può fare? was published in Strozzi's Book VIII in l664. The form is that of a long, complex lament. Section A takes place over a descending tetrachord that repeats 28 times the first time through; "B" is made up of free recitative with flourishes; "C" is an imitative chromatic section; "D" is again free recitative with flourishes which introduce "E," a contrapuntal section with a high, florid bass line with imitation between the voice and the bass line; "F" begins as if it will continue over a repeated bass line, but changes to supply imitative figures between the bass line and the voice; "G" is again a free recitative with an extraordinary flourish on the word trabocca (he will fall). The "A" section is repeated in a da capo.

Strozzi's Non pavento io non di te, from Book VI written in 1651 for Sig. Giovanni Antonio Forni, is a multisectioned da capo aria that intersperses aria sections in 3 with free recitative sections. Strozzi employs word painting such as in La mia te costante (my constant faith) and dramatic and expressive concitato effects in the section beginning Arma, arma (Arm yourself).

An anonymous seventeenth-century piece for Spanish guitar, La Folia is from a private Italian manuscript. The guitar, first mentioned by Juan Bermudo in his Declaracion de instrumentos (1555) as guitarra de cinco ordenes, became a popular instrument at the beginning of the seventeenth century in Italy under the name chitarra spagnola. The first Italian publication for the instrument was by Girolamo Montesardo in Florence in 1606, called a book of "alphabet music." The title refers to a system of notation, assigning a specific letter (i. e., "A") to one specific chord (i. e. "G major") which is strummed in a variety of ways. The music in these books consists of chord sequences of well-known dances such as Folia, Ciaconna and Zarabanda, and songs with chordal accompaniments.

Giovanni Paolo Foscarini was the first Italian composer to publish a book written in a mixed pizzicato alfabeto style (Rome, ca.1630). The term pizzicato referred to melodic passages or to anything that could not be expressed by the aIfabeto. The pizzicato style was notated in five line Italian tabulature. The anonymous Folia heard here is written in this style alternating melodic passages with strummed chords.

In 1628 Vincenzo Giustiniani wrote in his Discorse sopra la musica de' suoi tempi', "The chitarra alla spagnola is being used in all of Italy although mostly in Naples and unites with the theorbo in an attempt to banish the lute...." As an instrument for basso continuo the Spanish guitar is first mentioned by Augustino Agazzari In 1601.

Christofano Malvezzi, in his edition of the Florentine Intermedi et concerti (Venice, 1591), informs us of an ensemble of women musicians in Florence called the Concerto delle Donne of whom two played the guitar. "All the terzets were sung and danced by Vittoria Archilei, Lucia Caccini [mother of Francesca and Settimia], and Margherita. Vittoria and Lucia each played guitars, one alla spagnola, the other alla Napolettana, and Margherita played a cembalino [small spinet] with such sweet harmonies and gentleness and beauty that most could not watch or hear." As a continuo instrument for the voice, the guitar is mentioned in more than eighty publications in the 17th century and in more than 200 in the 18th century. The tuning of the guitar is:

guitar tuning 2

(Numbers 1 through 5, with repeated notes counting as one number)

--Program notes for 16th & 17th Century music on "La Musica" CD by Carol Plantamura and Jürgen Hübscher


Julie Kabat, composer and concert artist, has performed her music throughout the U.S., Canada and Japan. She has composed vocal, choral and chamber music as well as music for the theater, including a Samuel Beckett play presented by NOHO Theater Company in Japan and music for the Circle Repertory Theatre Company in New York.

In finding her own voice, Kabat has developed an individual style of singing, often in a language without words that brings us close to the world of dreams. She often accompanies her voice with an unusual array of homemade and ethnic musical instruments such as glass harmonium, musical saw and percussion. Her many one-woman performance art pieces combine music, theater, poetry and puppetry. For instance, Child and the Moon-Tree is a one-act opera for voice and computerized synthesizers with costumes and stylized choreography inspired by her studies of Noh Theater in Japan.

Kabat has composed many site-specific works, including a series of pieces that celebrate the earth and a sense of place, such as Navajo Mountain Song created with children on the Navajo Reservation and the Wild Sound Symphony for the Adirondack Park.

Since the late 1970's, Ms. Kabat has worked as a teaching artist at the cutting edge of arts in education. As a composer in the classroom, she focuses on the intersection of music and language, helping students read and write poems and stories that they set to music, so that everyone gets the chance to improvise and perform.

Ms. Kabat is Executive and Artistic Director of Concerted Effort, a nonprofit organization devoted to arts in education. With dancer Susan Griss, she co-directs the Arts and Curriculum Institute at Skidmore College (ACI), which offers professional development for elementary school teachers on how to use music, poetry and dance to teach children to read and write. She began studying music composition at age eleven with a professor at Brown University and went on to study with Hall Overton and Jacob Druckman, among others. Ms. Kabat earned a B.A. in philosophy (phi beta kappa) at Brandeis University.


 

 

 

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