No 1: Ov'è, lass', il bel viso?
No 2: Quando son più lontan
No 3: Amor, io sento l'alma
No 4: Io piango
No 5: Luci serene e chiare
No 6: Se per havervi, oime
Derived from what the composer has identified as the ‘single, primal sonority’ of the ‘fire-chord’, the Madrigali relate an inner narrative of evanescent hope and erotic obsession. Some of the techniques that the composer has assimilated from Monteverdi and his contemporaries include a pervasive modality, bold harmonic juxtapositions, word-painting through melodic and harmonic means; intricate counterpoint, and Augenmusik – literally ‘eye-music’. (Used extensively by Marenzio and other sixteenth-century madrigal composers, the practice of Augenmusik exploits the purely graphic appearance of the score to convey a musical meaning to the performer’s gaze.) Cast as an extended Bogenform (‘arch form’), the Madrigali are unified through the use of recurring thematic and harmonic material, especially between movements one and six, and two and five. The capstone and climax of the cycle is reached in the fourth madrigal, Io piango (‘I weep’), a lament that reaches a shattering climax on a complex chord of harrowing dissonance. The final movement, Se per havervi, oime (‘If, alas, when I gave you my heart’), provides the Madrigali with an ambivalent conclusion; after the emotional immolation so movingly portrayed in the preceding madrigals, Lauridsen sagely eschews a facile resolution by ending the cycle on a subdued but insistently unresolved dissonance. As the composer once remarked, ‘these settings are passionate, earthy, dramatic – red wine music’.
from notes by Byron Adams © 2005