Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643) - Messa sopra l'Aria di Fiorenza

Girolamo Frescobaldi "had all his brains in his fingertips" wrote the Florentine Giovanni Batista Dona. This discharging comment has its roots in the fact that the composer was during his lifetime known mainly as an organist and harpsichordist.

His teacher, the Ferrarese musician Luzzasco Luzzaschi, was regarded as a great organ virtuoso, and Frescobaldi was relatively young when appointed organist to St. Peter's in Rome. Small wonder, then, that his printed works include only music for keyboard instruments and secular vocal music.

That Frescobaldi was also a composer of sacred music can only be deduced from a few remaing manuscripts. Among them, the most remarkable are two masses, the Messa sopra l'aria di Monica and the Messa sopra l'aria di Fiorenza. Both are based on borrowed models, the Monica on a melody with bass, known in the German-speaking world as 'Von Gott will ich nicht lassen', the Fiorenza on a bass part only. This comes originally from a five-part madrigal by Emilio de' Cavalieri, first performed at the Florentine wedding of 1589 - hence its name.

Frescobaldi uses this bass part in his mass as the foundation for the continuo: its memorable opening g-d-e-B-c-d-G is recognizable in all parts. From it is derived the theme for the upper voices, it sets the harmonic framework, and adds spice to many a variation. In this way a straightforward inner coherence is maintained, which pulls together the irregular entries of the various voices in the two choirs, the polyphonic interplay of the vocal parts and the many-layered rhythms. The resultant sound never threatens to become opaque, promotes the intelligibility of the text, and uses the performing space to best advantage - all apparently without effort. The choice of the Fiorentina bass suggests that the composer wrote the work during his Florentine period, 1628-1634.

The CD was released by Arte Nova, 2000 (DDD). Arte Nova 74321 75500 2.

Soprano: Siri Thornhill
Altus: Rainer Seifert
Tenor: Henning Kaiser
Bass: Marcus Niedermeyr

Orpheus Chor München, Lyra Ensemble, Conductor: Gerd Guglhör

Track List:

Girolamo Frescobaldi - Messa sopra l'aria di Fiorenza
  1. Kyrie (2'43")
  2. Gloria (3'04")
  3. Credo (3'15")
  4. Crucifixus (00'39")
  5. Et resurrexit (00'42")
  6. Et iterum (1'02")
  7. Et in spiritum (1'57")
  8. Sanctus (1'00")
  9. Agnus Dei (1'15")
Franceso Cavalli - Vesperi 1675

10. Dixit Dominus (5'20")
11. Laudate Pueri Dominum (2'37")
12. Laetatus Sum (Psalm 122) (3'14")
13. O Quam Suavis Es (Hymnus) (3'52")
14. Nisi Dominus (Psalm 127) (2'41")
15. Beatus Vir (Psalm 112) (6'20")
16. Ave Regina (Hymnus) (5'30")
17. Confitebor (Psalm 111) (5'13")
18. Lauda Jerusalem (Psalm 148) (3'13")
19. In Exitu (Psalm 114, 115) (6'53")