Thursday, February 17, 2011

Giulio Caccini - L'Euridice – Achten, Scherzi Musicali







Caccini's lyricism, emotion, and skilled vocal writing show clearly that his L'Euridice is the true forerunner of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo.

Title page of the first (1602) Le Nuove musiche. When Peri and Caccini collaborated together in 1601 to produce a work called L'Euridice, the work presented was Peri's with some spots by Caccini. Caccini, however produced his own complete work and submitted it for publication earlier than Peri. Both works were outgrowths of long discussions by the Florentine Camerata as to how the Greeks performed music in their plays, and as my readers might know, the Italian Renaissance was a result of the study of Greek and Roman manuscripts and the attempts to purify the excesses of composers. Both Peri and Caccini sought the same ideals: the sung text should be completely intelligible, because the rhythmic treatment of the text resembled speech as much as possible. They aimed for rhetorical expression of emotions, but used musical methods to obtain this. Peri would occasionally use surprising harmonies and dissonances, and avoided melodic lines that would take attention away from the text. Caccini's musical language is more vocal, with many melodic passages integrated into the recitative, and by using simple pure harmonies. Any use of more chromatic keys such as C or F minor are used as expressions of sorrowful emotion.

This recording is done by a young ensemble and is, to my ears an ideal choice for their first recording. Younger voices seem to be the most suited to convey freshness, naivety and innocence. The recording is beautifully done and very clear. The instrumental forces for Renaissance opera are always interesting because the score usually give us the vocal lines and a figured bass and very little else, so the fleshing out of the orchestra (or ensemble) becomes a very creative, reconstructive process. This recording uses triple harp, basse de viole,lirone, lutes, theorbos (beautiful bass lutes), guitars,clavecin and organ. All in all, this is a rare recording of a beautiful piece of music.





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