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The lauda for St Sebastian, Quando riguardo typifies the unadorned music of Florentine religious song in a style suited to amateur singers. Here the singers on each of the three parts pronounce the words together. Vocal ranges are narrow, rhythms are steady, and the parts have few leaps. St Sebastian, a Roman centurion who suffered martyrdom for his conversion to Christianity, was thought to protect against the plague. In the 1470s a spacious chapel called ‘San Bastiano’ was erected alongside the church of Santissima Annunziata. In 1475 the brothers Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo painted for this chapel an imposing altarpiece of the saint’s martyrdom, now in the National Gallery in London. Florentine laymen invoked Sebastian’s aid by singing Quando riguardo in front of such images.
from notes by Patrick Macey © 2022