Hyperion Records

Iam moriar, mi fili 'Pianto della Madonna'
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Monteverdi’s Pianto della Madonna is a strange and problematic work. It is a contrafactum of the famous ‘Lamento d’Arianna’ from the otherwise lost opera Arianna of 1608, and was published in 1641 with most of Monteverdi’s later church music in the large collection Selva morale. It is not clear who made the adaptation: the Latin text, the lament of Mary at the foot of the Cross, is sometimes closer to Italian than Latin, and shows signs of having been written to fit the existing music – a common procedure at the time. It is difficult to envisage a liturgical function for the piece, though if it was performed in church it would have been sung by a man, as in this recording. We know from a description of Arianna that the original lament was performed with strings, which I have taken as a hint that a string ritornello articulated the main sections. Unfortunately, the ritornello does not survive, so I have taken the liberty of borrowing a suitable one from Monteverdi’s opera Il ritorno d’Ulisse.

from notes by Peter Holman © 2001

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