Honourable mention: “Zefiro torna e di soavi accenti” by Claudio Monteverdi
We start the week with a comical work, a madrigal by Claudio Monteverdi set after a poem by Ottavio Rinuccini, an Italian 16th century poet considered to be the first opera librettist. In this sonnet we hear a plea to Zephyrus, the bringer of spring in Greek mythology, to come and enliven the air, the branches, the mountains and valleys, everything around our hero who goes back and forth between singing and crying, being tormented by love . However, this is a light pastoral very much in tune with the energy and liveliness of spring, the background orchestra expressing this beautifully through their chaconne accompaniment of the vocal duet, which is full of trembling joyful melodies, making this madrigal sound almost like a parody. Zephyrus and the L’Arpeggiata Ensemble will surely make you sing and dance and feel the full power of spring upon you.
Return O Zephyr, and with gentle motion(lyrics)
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.
IDAGIO and Amazon for: Helga Müller-Molinari (Mezzo-soprano), René Jacobs (countertenor), Concerto Vocale Ensemble
For a different but equally awesome take on madrigals, you can check out Carlo Gesualdo.
3. “Viola Concerto in G major” by Georg Philip Telemann
If Monteverdi was the link between Renaissance and Baroque, Telemann is the correspondent for the transition between Baroque and Classical eras. He was self-taught in music, pursuing composition against his family’s wishes of practising law instead. As it turned out, this was a fruitful occupation, as he composed more than 3000 works, out of which only half survived. Besides this, another fun fact about Telemann is that he is the first composer who had exclusive publication rights for his works, setting the precedent for intellectual property in the musical field*. Regarding this particular concert, the thing that sets it apart is its uniqueness: the concert in G major is the only viola concert from the baroque era, a time in which this instrument was used only as a filler, and it’s the first viola concert ever. Definitely check this for a detailed walk-through of movements and enjoy this beautiful exclusive viola centred composition.
IDAGIO and Amazon for: dir. Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Stephen Shingles (viola)
2. “Piano Trio no. 1 in D minor, op. 49” by Felix Mendelssohn
Different strings at no. 2, the violin and violoncello replaced the viola in this piano trio by Felix Mendelssohn, considered to be one of the composer’s best chamber works, along with the Octet in E flat major, which was my first pick back in January. What I like most about this trio is the perfect combination of energy and lyricism. Firstly, the piano brings the vitality while the strings play an expressive melody, and then it accompanies the strings in the same sentiment for a very sensitive second movement. The third movement is a bundle of life, all the instruments racing one another in a frenzy until the forth comes in and reconciles them into a happy and playful dialogue.
IDAGIO and Amazon for: Emanuel Ax (Piano), Itzhak Perlman (Violin), Yo-Yo Ma (Violoncello)
1. “Cello Suite no. 1 in G major” by J. S. Bach
This is the second time that Bach steals the spotlight and his third appearance in these weekly tops.
Not much I can comment about what are the most performed and famous cello solo compositions, other than I could listen to them over and over again.
IDAGIO and Amazon for: Mischa Maisky (Violoncello)
IDAGIO and Amazon for: Yo-Yo Ma (Violoncello)
Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive list of all the works curated by Clemency Burton-Hill in the book “Year of Wonder: Classical music for every day”. To enjoy the full catalogue of pieces proposed by the author along with her comments on the composers and the music itself, feel free to pick up her awesome book here (not affiliated, nor sponsored).