The Petrarch setting Zefiro torna e ’l bel tempo rimena
from Book 6 conveys the intense pain of loss. Monteverdi sets the first two quatrains of the sonnet as though they were two stanzas of a strophic song, in a joyful dance-like triple time reflecting the pleasures of spring. When the poet contrasts this with his inner desolation, however, Monteverdi turns to a more sombre mood. Mention of the singing of birds and the love of women in lines 12 and 13 prompt a brief return to the joyous music of the opening before we are plunged into a tortured sequence of dissonances reflecting the poet’s anguish.
from notes by John Whenham © 2014