Monday, January 28, 2013

Monteverdi's Zefiro Torna

It is pure medicine, during these trying times, to listen to these marvelous musicians play and sing this wonderful duet. I am amazed at the flexibility of the cornetto, and the way it matches the violin (and what a brilliant choice, since it's usually played with two violins)! I love the blend and contrast between the marvelous soprano and countertenor voices, the indulgent array of plucked instruments playing the ostinato, and Ottavio Rinuccini's poem!

Zefiro torna e di soavi accenti
L'aer fa grato e'l pie discoglie a l'onde
E mormorando tra le verdi fronde
Fa danzar al bel suon sul prato i fiori,
Inghirlandato il crin Fillide e Clori,
Notte temprando amor care e gioconde,
E da monti e da valli ime e profonde
Raddopian l'armonia gli antri canori.
Sorge più vaga in ciel l'aurora, e'l sole
Sparge più luci d'or, più puro argento
Fregia di Teti il bel ceruleo manto.

So io per selve abbandonate e sole
L'ardor di due begli occhi e'l mio tormento
Come vuol mia ventura hor piango, hor canto.

[Return O Zephyr, and with gentle motion
Make pleasant the air and scatter the grasses in waves
And murmuring among the green branches
Make the flowers in the field dance to your sweet sound;
Crown with a garland the heads of Phylla and Chloris
With notes tempered by love and joy,
From mountains and valleys high and deep
And sonorous caves that echo in harmony.
The dawn rises eagerly into the heavens and the sun
Scatters rays of gold, and of the purest silver,
Like embroidery on the cerulean mantle of Thetis.

But I, in abandoned forests, am alone.
The ardour of two beautiful eyes is my torment;
As my Fate wills it, now I weep, now I sing.]

Here's the score.


Anonymous said...

You write of "trying times." The life of Monteverdi conincides with religious wars and persecuctions, style conflicts in music and plastic arts, and he was able to write because of sponsorship from both the nobility and the church, the "elite" of his era. A genius without question, he needed the support which he found, and oddly those "trying times" included the Ottoman–Venetian War (1570–1573), Long War (1593-1606) Muslim Turks against many European city states and nations, and of course Europe's own Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). Trying times then, and it seems not much has changed.

Elaine Fine said...

So true.

Allen Garvin said...

This is the piece that almost certainly started the mid-baroque fad of ciacconas in Italian music. After the publication of his Scherzi musicali there was a veritable flood of vocal ciacconas, and, eventually, instrumental ones (Merula, Falconieri, et al). Eventually every opera had to end with a ciaccona. One person complained of singers introducing the pattern into masses.

Elaine Fine said...

Thanks Allen. I always thought that the practice started with the "Lamento della Ninfa" in the 8th book of Madrigals (also with a text by Rinuccini), but that was published in 1638 and the Scherzi were published in 1632.

Maria said...

This is beautiful. Im so glaad that i am able to listen to this years after it was created.

Unknown said...

Ms. Fine, whose English translation is this? Many thanks!

Elaine Fine said...

I don't know. It was on the YouTube video. Perhaps the person who uploaded it would know.

Seymour said...

Wonderful in every way...Thanks for posting this!

David Horacio Colmenares said...

A New World air that made it's way to Spain, Italy and France! An early example can be found in Juan de Arañés "Sarao de Chacona".