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Track(s) taken from CDA68019

Ohimè il bel viso, ohimè il soave sguardo, SV112

Madrigals, Book 6
author of text

Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen (conductor)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: March 2013
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt & Robert Cammidge
Release date: February 2014
Total duration: 4 minutes 22 seconds

Cover artwork: Flora (1559, detail) by Jan Massys (1509-1575)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'The latest disc from Jonathan Cohen’s virtuoso ensemble Arcangelo is a musical love story, complete with lovers’ quarrel, tearful partings and tragic endings. Bringing together the Sestinas from Books 6-8 of Monteverdi’s madrigals, the programme explores the gamut of the composer’s mature style, evolving from the crystallised 'prima prattica' perfection of Book 6 to the 'genere concitato' (agitated style) of Book 8. All of Cohen’s singers come from the world of opera, and it shows in performances that place the drama of 'le parole' to the fore. The astonishing harmonic flexibility and melodic narrative of Monteverdi’s writing translates here into urgent drama … among so much vocal athleticism, it’s still the instrumentalists of the ensemble that dominate, setting the disc apart from the excellent I Fagiolini recordings that come closest vocally to this kind of abandon. Sitting midway between the nervous energy of Alessandrini’s Concerto Italiano and the more measured intensity of Jordi Savall for the Book 8 works, Arcangelo’s musicians deploy rough-edged expressive risk-taking within a framework of complete stylistic control' (Gramophone)

'These are not easy pieces, but the opening ballet swings along with panache, and there is some excellent tenor solo singing in the first section … the two sopranos in the duet Ohimè, dov'è il mio ben show poise and taste' (BBC Music Magazine)» More

'This is a wonderful disc, presenting Monteverdi the dramatist and the creator of vivid aural pictures. Presented in such vivid recorded sound and by such accomplished musicians, intuitively directed by the excellent Jonathan Cohen, it provides an invaluable and hugely attractive addition to the composer’s already generous representation on disc' (International Record Review)» More
In Book 6, the sestina is followed immediately by a setting of Petrarch’s sonnet Ohimè il bel viso, ohimè il soave sguardo, the first in his Canzoniere reflecting his sense of loss after the death of his beloved Laura. In Monteverdi’s setting the cry ‘Ohimè’ (‘Alas’) is set for solo sopranos, against a trio of male voices. But whereas in the sestina Monteverdi invented repeated cries where the poet supplied only one, here Petrarch repeats the word over and over again in the first five lines of his text, fully supporting Monteverdi’s long, plangent musical paragraph. Clear parallels between the music of Ohimè il bel viso and that of the sestina suggest that the Petrarch setting may also be a tribute to Caterina Martinelli, and, indeed, Petrarch’s description of Laura could equally well have described the young singer, whose tombstone was inscribed:

Caterina Martinelli … dear above all to Vincenzo, Serene Duke of Mantua, for that famous excellence, the sweetness of her manner, her beauty, her grace and charm, snatched away, alas, by bitter death.

from notes by John Whenham © 2014

Dans le Livre 6, la sestina est immédiatement suivie d’une mise en musique d’un sonnet de Pétrarque, Ohimè il bel viso, ohimè il soave sguardo, le premier des Canzoniere à refléter le chagrin éprouvé par le poète à la mort de sa bien-aimée Laura. Le compositeur adresse le cri «Ohimè» («Hélas») à des sopranos solo, sur fond d’un trio de voix masculines. Mais là où, dans la sestina, il invente des cris répétés (le poète n’en prévoyait qu’un), c’est Pétrarque qui, dans les cinq premiers vers de son texte, répète constamment ce mot, soutenant pleinement le long et plaintif paragraphe musical. D’évidents parallèles entre les musiques de Ohimè il bel viso et de la sestina suggèrent que la mise en musique du texte de Pétrarque put aussi être un hommage à Caterina Martinelli—de fait, la description de Laura par Pétrarque pourrait tout autant avoir concerné la jeune cantatrice, dont la pierre tombale portait cette inscription:

Caterina Martinelli … chère par-dessus tout à Vincenzo, duc Sérénissime de Mantoue, pour cette excellence illustre, la douceur de ses manières, sa beauté, sa grâce et son charme, arrachés, hélas, par la mort amère.

extrait des notes rédigées par John Whenham © 2014
Français: Hypérion

Im 6. Buch folgt unmittelbar auf die Sestine eine Vertonung von Petrarcas Sonett Ohimè il bel viso, ohimè il soave sguardo, das erste aus seinem Canzoniere, in dem sein Verlustgefühl nach dem Tod seiner geliebten Laura deutlich wird. In Monteverdis Vertonung wird der Ruf „Ohimè“ („Ach“) von Solo-Sopranstimmen wiedergegeben und gegen ein Männerstimmen-Trio gesetzt. Während Monteverdi in der Sestine jedoch bestimmte Rufe wiederholte, selbst wenn der Dichter nur einen angegeben hatte, wiederholt Petrarca dieses Wort in den ersten fünf Verszeilen immer wieder, was Monteverdis langem, klagendem musikalischen Abschnitt völlig entspricht. Die deutlichen Parallelen zwischen der Musik zu Ohimè il bel viso und derjenigen der Sestine weisen darauf hin, dass die Petrarca-Vertonung wohl ebenso als Hommage an Caterina Martinelli gedacht war; Petrarcas Beschreibung der Laura passte zudem ebenso auf die junge Sängerin, auf deren Grabstein folgende Worte standen:

Caterina Martinelli … die Vincenzo, Seiner Durchlaucht von Mantua besonders lieb war, aufgrund jener berühmten Begabung, der Lieblichkeit ihrer Art, ihrer Schönheit, ihrer Anmut und ihres Charmes, entrissen, leider Gottes, durch den bitteren Tod.

aus dem Begleittext von John Whenham © 2014
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

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