Did Luzzasco Luzzaschi invent Bel Canto?
This questions is not quite as frivolous as it might sound. The lifetime of Luzzaschi, from 1545 to 1607, framed an immense revolution in European music: the passage of preeminence from the Flemings to the Italians, the emergence of secular music as the equal of sacred in sophistication, the transformation of musical forms and theory from the dispassionate Apollonian beauties of polyphony to the hyperpassionate Dionysian beauties of madrigalism and monody, the sudden social acceptance of women singers in courtly and urban music, the Birth of Baroque in short.
# Composer: Luzzasco Luzzaschi
# Performer: Helena Afonso, Cristina Miatello, Marinella Pennicchi, Sergio Vartolo
# Vinyl (1981)
# Number of discs: 1
# Format: Flac
# Label: Harmonia Mundi
# DR-Analysis: DR 14
# ASIN CD: B000027NZE
# Size: 1.13 GB
# Scan: yes
# Server: FileFactory
Luzzasco Luzzaschi — the student of Cipriano da Rore and the teacher of Girolamo Frescobaldi, as well as the source of inspiration for Luca Marenzio, Carlo Gesualdo, and Claudio Monteverdi — was unquestionably a pivotal figure in that musical revolution, while Ferrara – the domain of the d’Este dynasty – was its epicenter.
In 1580, Alfonso II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, officially founded the Concerto delle Dame to perform almost daily in his secretive and exclusive ‘musica reservata’ soirees. It has been supposed that Alfonso intended the ensemble to amuse his third young wife, Margherita Gonzaga, but Alfonso was most certainly an avid appreciator of music, art, and literature. He was the patron of the poets Tasso and Guarini, whose verses were to supply the texts for madrigals and operas for the next two centuries. His architectural and artistic projects nearly bankrupted his Duchy. No doubt part of his motivation was simple egotism, evidence to his princely peers in Italy of his own magnificence and sophistication. The effort was largely successful; the prestige of Ferrara and the d’Este family was immense.
Alfonso appointed his court organist Luzzasco, already renowned for his keyboard virtuosity particularly on the microtonal arcicembalo, to direct the new ensemble, a position that implied composition for and accompaniment of the singers. The first “Concerto delle Dame” was comprised of the most skillful singers among the ladies of the ducal court, but the skilled amateurs were soon supplanted by young women selected for their virtuosic technique rather than their aristocratic origins. Almost instantaneously, the performances of the Concerto were an open secret and a sensation across Europe. Invitations to hear the Ladies were available only to the fewest of the few; to receive such an invitation was more coveted than knighthood or a nod from the Vatican. Naturally every other magnate/prince in Italy was soon breeding his own all-girl ensemble.
Luzzasco’s compositions for the Concerto must have evolved quickly from the styles of the polyphonic madrigal to the elaboration of virtuosic soprano lines over a sort of chordal accompaniment on instruments including his own keyboards plus lute or harp, precisely the musical structures than Monteverdi would eventually formalize as the “seconda prattica”. The Concerto delle Dame stabilized as a trio of women’s voice, ever more virtuosic until its dissolution in 1597 upon the death of Alfonso, who had remained childless through his three marriages. Ferrara’s preeminence evaporated almost overnight, and the whole repertoire of the Concerto delle Dame was lost, except for one collection of “Madrigali per cantare et sonare a 1-3 soprani” which Luzzasco published in 1601, preserving music he had presumably composed in the 1580s.
Ecco! Bel Canto è nato! Bel Canto is born.
The efflorescence of this ornamented, pyrotechnic vocal virtuosity did not, of course, take place in musical isolation. It paralleled the efflorescence of instrumental virtuosity in the diminutions and ‘passagi’ – both improvised and written – of cornetto players, keyboardists, and eventually violinists. The flurried arpeggios of the singers on this CD would look in notation exactly like the ‘passagi’ composed for cornetto by composers of the same era. What a soprano could do, a cornettist could rival … and, as the next century revealed, a “castrato” could surpass.
Claudio Cavina, the director of La Venexiana, is himself a top-notch countertenor though he doesn’t sing on this record. La Venexiana has emerged from the scrum of baroque chamber ensemble as perhaps the most thrilling and yet reliable. This is a magnificent performance, one that pushes our concept of Bel Canto back to its epiphany.
Analyzed folder: /96kLuz_ConDeDaDiFer/96k Luzzaschi – Concerto Delle Dame Di Ferrara
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR14 -3.40 dB -23.27 dB A1 Aura Soave.wav
DR13 -3.58 dB -21.24 dB A2 O Primavera.wav
DR13 -0.28 dB -19.38 dB A3 Ch’io Non T’ami.wav
DR14 -0.51 dB -21.67 dB A4 Stral Pungente D’Amore.wav
DR14 -3.64 dB -22.97 dB A5 Deh Vieni Ormai.wav
DR13 -4.43 dB -23.45 dB A6 Cor Mio Deh Non Languire.wav
DR13 -1.76 dB -19.33 dB B1 I’Mi Son Giovinetta.wav
DR14 -4.06 dB -23.74 dB B2 O Dolcezze Amarissime D’Amore.wav
DR14 -2.02 dB -22.10 dB B3 Troppe Ben Puo’.wav
DR14 -1.01 dB -20.86 dB B4 T’Amo Mia Vita.wav
DR14 -3.11 dB -22.24 dB B5 Non Sa Che Sia Dolore.wav
DR13 -0.80 dB -19.65 dB B6 Occhi Del Pianto Mio.wav
Number of files: 12
Official DR value: DR14
- RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
- TT: Clearaudio Champion Level II
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
- Phono amp: Pro-Ject Phono Box RS
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- Pre Amp: Unison Research Unico Pre (Tube)
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
- Software: iZotope RX Advanced v2.02, Adobe Audition CS 5.5 -> Wave 32 bit/96 kHz
- Light de-Clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no De-Noising
You hear some clicks and pops here and there? Who cares?
I better let some light anomalies instead of destroying the music. Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops.
- DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
- Converting Wave – -> Flac: Twisted Wave
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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