A hymn in flowing triple time, also found set to Sanctorum meritis
and Deus tuorum militum
in the Selva morale
. The same gently modulating harmonies serve for both string ritornelli and verses, and could be thought of as a ground bass if the setting were any longer. At least one composer after Monteverdi did think of it as a ground bass: the Veronese Antonio Bertali who worked in Vienna borrowed it and part of Monteverdi’s tune for a set of variations in a sonata for two violins, bassoon and continuo. A curious feature of Monteverdi’s piece is the high pitch of the parts, particularly of the continuo. It is possible that the music should be heard a fourth lower sung by a bass, but we decided to record it at written pitch using a tenor as the Renaissance transposition conventions were becoming obsolete by the end of Monteverdi’s career, and the music has an attractive squeaky sonority when performed at the high pitch, which may be a deliberate effect. We used a bass viol to play the continuo instead of the cello as several contemporary Italian sources suggest its use for high-pitched bass lines.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1981