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Quando riguardo el nostro viver rio

author of text
lauda for Saint Sebastian; stanzas 1 & 3 of 3

The lauda is a religious song with texts that praise the Blessed Virgin or exhort the singer to turn away from sin. An important venue for lauda performance was the cantoria (organ loft), and in Florence one could hear laudas sung by a boy treble with organ accompaniment. The practice is documented in the church of Santissima Annunziata, which was central to Florence’s devotional life and attracted pilgrims from far and wide for the healing powers of its miraculous painted image of the Annunciation. The cathedral of Florence was graced with two organ lofts featuring sculpted panels by Luca della Robbia and Donatello that depict children singing, dancing and playing instruments. These small lofts can accommodate only a few people, not a full choir of singers.

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


The Florentine Renaissance
CDA68349 Available Friday 7 January 2022


Track 8 on CDA68349 [2'31] Available Friday 7 January 2022

Track-specific metadata for CDA68349 track 8

Recording date
9 January 2020
Recording venue
Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Loughton, Essex, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Ben Connellan
Hyperion usage
  1. The Florentine Renaissance (CDA68349)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: 7 January 2022
    Available Friday 7 January 2022
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