Many songs by Isaac were performed in the intimacy of private chambers, such as those in the Palazzo Medici. Corri, Fortuna
was long regarded as an instrumental work, but the incipit in the source matches the opening words of a poem by Serafino Aquilano. This wildly popular poet-improviser was known for the irony of his lyrics and his captivating vocal delivery. The text is a strambotto
, with eight lines rhyming ABABABCC. The music fits the first half of the poem, and then repeats for the last four lines, a typical procedure for settings of strambotto
verse. The Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger aptly described the goddess of Fortune and her turning wheel: ‘For what is there in existence that Fortune, when she has so willed, does not drag down from the very height of its prosperity?’ It has been suggested that Isaac’s music captures the motion of Fortune’s wheel as it turns. The second half of the musical setting climbs steadily upward as the wheel ascends. Fortune inevitably turns her wheel downward and plunges into the dust anyone who clings to it, as one can hear in the song’s conclusion.
from notes by Patrick Macey © 2022