Saturday morning quotes 4.27: Mignardises
We strive to provide timely quotations of interest for our dedicated followers every Saturday, but from time to time our best intentions are derailed by the typical daily catastrophes of 21st-century life. Such is the case this week and we are compelled to draw upon our improvisatory skills in lieu of our intended subject, which will emerge in due course. But today we point to a sweet little something in the way of a recording from our 2011 CD, Sfumato: Musica per voce e liuto del Rinascimento Italiano.
The frottola, “Che debo far che mi consigli amore” by Bartolomeo Tromboncino (c. 1470 – 1535), is a setting of the poetry of the famous Francesco Petrarca (1304 – 1374), from Canzoniere (Rerum vulgarium fragmenta), in 2. Rime In morte di Madonna Laura, (268). The setting for solo voice and lute was published in 1509 and is found on f. 7v of Tenori e contrabassi intabulati col sopran in canto figurato per cantar e sonar col lauto Libro primo. Francisci Bossinensis Opus, the work of one Franciscus Bossinensis (fl. 1509 – 1511), printed by Venetian, Ottaviano Petrucci.
Our version of the frottola includes a setting of the first two stanzas of Petrarca’s poem:
Che debb’io far? che mi consigli, Amore?
Tempo è ben di morire,
et ò tardato più ch’i’ non vorrei.
Madonna è morta, et à seco il mio core;
et volendol seguire,
interromper conven quest’anni rei,
perché mai veder lei
di qua non spero, et l’aspettar m’è noia.
Poscia ch’ogni mia gioia
per lo suo dipartire in pianto è volta,
ogni dolcezza de mia vita è tolta.
Amor, tu ‘l senti, ond’io teco mi doglio,
quant’è il damno aspro et grave;
e so che del mio mal ti pesa et dole,
anzi del nostro, perch’ad uno scoglio
avem rotto la nave,
et in un punto n’è scurato il sole.
Qual ingegno a parole
poria aguagliare il mio doglioso stato?
Ahi orbo mondo, ingrato,
gran cagion ài di dever pianger meco,
ché quel bel ch’era in te, perduto ài seco.
What shall I do? What do you counsel me, Love?
It is surely time to die,
and I have delyed more than I would wish.
My lady is dead, and has my heart with her,
And if I wish to follow it
I must break off these cruel years,
For I never hope to see her on this side,
And waiting is painful to me,
since by her departure my every joy is turned to weeping,
every sweetness of my life is taken away.
Love, you feel how great is the bitter heavy loss,
And therefore I complain to you;
and I know that you are pained by my grief –
Or rather ours,
for we have wrecked our ship on the same rock
And in the same instant the sun is darkened for us both.
What skill could ever match in words my sorrowful state?
Ah! Bereaved, ungrateful world!
You have great reason to weep with me,
for with her you have lost all the good that was in you.
Tromboncino’s musical setting presents what appears to be a very regular dance pulse that insistently impels the music, almost demanding a sparkling and sprightly tempo. But when the astute interpreter truly heeds the heart-wrenching nature of the poetry, the effect of the piece is only marred by such insensitive forward motion. A pensive and restrained pulse with longing accents placed on the rhythmically syncopated suspensions produces a result that elevates what might otherwise be a trivial little ditty to a miniature masterpiece of melancholy.
We give very careful thought to recreating the meaningful aesthetic of early music, melding research with intelligent interpretive ideas, and adding musical refinement. For our quote we offer these guiding and inspiring words from one of our very favorite performers:
“…I decided to do early music not as a reduction of possibility but as an increasing of possibility.”