Amarilli mia bella

In the Mystical Land of Kaydara
March 9, 2014
A Legend of Estonia
December 11, 2011

AMARILLI MIA BELLA
Pop of Early Modern

Ensemble Floridante

By the dawn of the 1600s the world had changed into a new place: All of a sudden, the Sun was placed in the center of the Universe (Copernicus), America was added to naval maps (Columbus), the Church went through Reformation (Luther), and philosophers introduced ideas of humanism and individual contribution to the society, thus, among other new subjects, rhetorics now became an integral part of school education. Europe had entered the Early modern period.
At the onset of the 1600s, a generation of innovation-minded musical practitioners publicly declared a separation between compositional styles of „now“ and „then“. For the second time in Western cultural history music manifested itself as „new“. Franco-Flemish ars nova scholars had stepped down and Italians took the reign. The focal point of musical creativeness shifted to living, breathing human beings.

Will be released in December 2019!

1 Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (1580–1651) Toccata seconda arpeggiata 3:30
2 Improvisation 1:45
3 Jehan Chardavoine (1538–1580) Une jeune fillette 3:19
4 Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583–1643) Toccata in d 5:43
5 Jacopo Peri (1561–1633) Lungi dal vostro lume 2:39
6 Girolamo Frescobaldi Aria detta la Frescobalda 4:05
7 Girolamo Frescobaldi Se l’aura spira 3:46
8 Barbara Strozzi (1619–1677) L’amante segreto (Voglio morire) 5:45
9 Giulio Caccini (1551–1618) Dalla porta d’oriente 4:30
10 Improvisation 0:38
11 John Dowland (1563–1626) Flow my tears (Lachrimae) 7:58
12 Bellerofonte Castaldi (1581–1649) Tasteggio soave 4:18
13 Improvisation 0:48
14 Giulio Caccini Amarilli mia bella 5:15

#3 Une jeune fillette, fragm, 2 min 58 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps

#8 Dalla porta d’oriente, fragm, 3 min 19 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps

Recording: Studio 89, Tallinn, March 22nd–25th, 2019
Sound engineer: Nikita Shishkov
Liner notes: Saale Fischer
Photos: Sabine Burger
Design: Mart Kivisild
Producers: Peeter Vähi, Mirje Mändla

Floridante: Maria Valdmaa – soprano, Saale Fischer – harpsichord, Anna-Liisa Eller – Estonian kannel, percussion, electronics, Kristo Käo – guitar, chitarrone
Instruments: 50-string Estonian chromatic kannel by Otto Koistinen (2007), 58-string Estonian chromatic kannel by Rait Pihlap (2019), Chitarrone by Martin de Witte (2011), 5-course guitar by Viljar Kuusk (2017), Franco-Flemish single manual harpsichord by Jukka Ollikka (2016)
Liner notes by Saale Fischer in Estonian, English and German

Special thanks: Taavi Kerikmäe, Toomas Siitan, Ian Karell, Christian M. Fischer, Cultural Endowment of Estonia.

ERP 10919

POP MUSIC OF EARLY MODERN?

By the dawn of the 1600s the world had changed into a new place: All of a sudden, the Sun was placed in the center of the Universe (Copernicus), America was added to naval maps (Columbus), the Church went through Reformation (Luther), and philosophers introduced ideas of humanism and individual contribution to the society, thus, among other new subjects, rhetorics now became an integral part of school education. Europe had entered the Early modern period.

At the onset of the 1600s, a generation of innovation-minded musical practitioners publicly declared a separation between compositional styles of „now“ and „then“. For the second time in Western cultural history music manifested itself as „new“. Franco-Flemish ars nova scholars had stepped down and Italians took the reign. The focal point of musical creativeness shifted to living, breathing human beings.

In 1602, Giulio Caccini’s „Le nuove musiche“ („The New Music“) was published in Florence. Caccini’s colleague and fellow countryman Claudio Monteverdi wrote in the preface to his fifth book of madrigals of two compositional styles, one that had been before (prima pratica), and the second one existing now (seconda pratica). Old music, vecchia musica, were Monteverdi’s words towards the earlier style that had favoured polyphonic structure over clarity of sung text. In Monteverdi’s opinion, things should have been the other way around, the Lyrics (oratio) ought to be in command of the Music (padrona del armonia), whereas delivery of the text should be executed with the persuasiveness of an excellent orator. One of the major sources for oratorical vocal delivery of the seicento vocal music is the preface to Caccini’s „Le nuove musiche“ of which a second print with new songs was published in 1614.

A standard setting for any pop song of today, vocal monody accompanied by bass and harmonic instruments, was a true novelty in the late-Renaissance Europe, for a noble consumer, vocal art music first and foremost associated with a cappella polyphonic madrigals. Between 1550 and 1600 roughly 500 of such „old-school“ madrigal collections were published, though the numbers went down rapidly in the next decades. Caccini picked up the term „madrigal“; however, he deliberately dropped all of its contrapuntal attributes – Caccini’s madrigals are one-part songs with instrumental accompaniment. A perfect example of the modern Italian madrigal is Caccini’s most famous „Amarilli mia bella“, or Jacopo Peri’s „Lungi dal vostro lume“, defined by irregular metrical structure, tragic thoughtfulness and indulgent dissonances. As a contrast, Caccini offers lively strophic dance-like songs called aria – such as „Dalla porta d’oriente“ or Girolamo Frescobaldi’s „Se l’aura spira“.

Both, modern madrigal and aria have equivalents in instrumental music. On this recording, Toccate by Giovanni Kapsberger and Frescobaldi, and Tasteggio soave by Bellerofonte Castaldi considerably resemble Caccini’s madrigals. Better said, their irregular form and structure point towards an attempt of scoring an improvisation. Encouraged by the improvisatory spirit of those pieces, we took the liberty of adding improvisations of our own, allowing the here-and-now-mindset to prevail over a historical approach. As an instrumental aria, Frescobaldi’s variations to „Aria detta la Frescobalda“ provide a good example.

Caccini’s „Le nuove musiche“ did not appear out of thin air. It would be unjust to claim that monody (one-part singing) was „invented“ in 1600 and this is where Baroque „happened“ for the first time. Most probably, the music that was published between 1600–1602 by Caccini and his contemporaries Ludovico da Viadana, Jacopo Peri or Emilio de’ Cavalieri, was a ripened fruit of experimentations of the past decades. That monodic accompanied art song was also pursued outside of Florentine Camerata, is indicated by the collection of songs plus belles et excellentes by Jehan Chardavoine, published in Paris in 1576. Stemming from French folk music and set by Chardavoine, „Une jeune fillette“ enjoyed a long and happy life and was still being quoted at times of J. S. Bach and M.-A. Charpentier. Same goes with John Dowland’s most acclaimed song „Flow my tears“. Published in 1600 in London, this vocal ayre with lute-accompaniment had initially been a solo-piece for lute, titled „Lachrimae pavan“. Unlike Caccini, Dowland never manifested his music as „new“. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the 17th century his „Flow my tears“ was the second most acclaimed song in Europe next to „Amarilli“. To the satisfaction of a high-society music consumer, „Lachrimae“ was being reworked into new oeuvres by further composers like William Byrd, Thomas Morley, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, and Dowland himself.

The pace of popular songs spreading in early modern Europe can easily be measured on an example of the madrigal „Amarilli mia bella“. First published in 1602 in Italy by Caccini, a harpsichord setting of that very piece by Peter Philips („Amarilli di Julio Romano”) is dated 1605. Doubtlessly, Italian music publishers played a significant role in introducing domestic music to the northern parts of Europe – commonly present at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Italians were generally known as active salesmen on the German market. Likewise, North-European publishers were eager to issue reprints or even new compilations of the newest Italian madrigal books.

Next to copies of historical instruments like chitarrone, 5-course guitar and harpsichord, we chose to use the Estonian chromatic kannel for this recording. Being an Estonian invention of the mid-twentieth century, kannel’s historical or geographical link to previously listed instruments is vague, although its kinship to a medieval diatonic psaltery is obvious. As the music of the Renaissance evolved, the diatonic stringing of medieval psaltery had to be replaced with a different system. The need for a psaltery-like chromatic plucked instrument resulted in the invention of clavicymbalum, an ancestor of the harpsichord, that was first described by Johannes Muris, a mathematician, astronomer and musicologist of the ars nova.  Unfortunately, after its reincarnation as harpsichord, psaltery’s flexible dynamic possibilities were lost. Approximately 450 years later, Estonian kannel players faced similar problems as the psalterists around 1500 – the traditional, diatonic folk kannel proved unsuitable for the new folk music orchestras formed in the Soviet Union in the 1940s. A competition for instrument builders was announced in 1945. Its winner Väino Maala had worked out a system for a cross-stringed chromatic kannel. Even if a chromatic psaltery was historically never invented, the modern Estonian kannel with its psaltery-like construction and sound quality is probably the closest solution to this 450-year-old aspiration.

 

FLORIDANTE

Estonian Early Music Ensemble Floridante was founded in Tallinn in 2014. Initially comprised of four members, Floridante today involves a few dozen Estonian musicians with a passion for Early Music. Though named after G. F. Händels opera, Floridante’s repertoire reaches far beyond German high Baroque. Floridante has been performing programs from nuove musiche, French Baroque, Bach & Händel, Empfindsamkeit, to early Romanticism. Among others, a program of yet undiscovered Baltic-German lied-composers was undertaken in cooperation with the Estonian National Library. Much of the repertoire, though well-known in Central Europe, is still undiscovered by the Estonian audience. Over the years, Floridante has gained a prominent position in Estonian classical music scene, and has been performing at numerous festivals at home and abroad.

MARIA VALDMAA

Estonian soprano Maria Valdmaa mastered her skills in Historical Performance Practice at the Royal Conservatoire in Den Haag under the supervision by Jill Feldman, Michael Chance and Peter Kooij. In 2014, she won the Michael Oliver Prize and the Audience Prize (Michael Normington Prize) at the Handel Singing Competition, London. Maria works with Early Music Ensembles like Dunedin Consort, Il Gardellino and Vox Luminis among others.

SAALE FISCHER

Being one of the initiators of Ensemble Floridante, Saale’s creative output constitutes concert performances and organisation, teaching and writing. She has translated, published concert reviews, essays and interviews, and is the founding editor of collection “The Contemporary Harpsichordist”. Since 2019, she is the program manager of Haapsalu Early Music Festival.

ANNA-LIISA ELLER

Anna-Liisa Eller is an Estonian kannel player equally focused on early and contemporary repertoire. She has graduated cum laude from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and is currently obtaining her doctoral degree at the very school. Anna-Liisa is an active member of ensembles Supersonus, Vox Clamantis, Kapsberger, Floridante, The Bright Future Ensemble etc. She has recorded chamber and solo music for ECM and Harmonia Mundi.

KRISTO KÄO

After witnessing how most of his highschool mates picked careers that were popular at the end of the 1990s – computers and business –, Kristo’s stubbornness made him want to be different. He decided to make a living from classical music and ever since has worked in most sectors of it. The list includes performing, recording, teaching, selling instruments, authoring and publishing textbooks and founding more or less successful music businesses.

 

Worldwide distribution by Note 1 Music (Carl-Benz-Straße 1, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany, phone +49 6221 720351, fax +49 6221 720381, info@note1-music.com, www.note1-music.com, and amazon.com
Distribution in North America by Naxos USA
Distribution in Estonia by Easy-Living Music (reispuk@neti.ee, phone +372 51 06058)

See also other Early Music recordings of ERP: Jerusalem, canto:)