Eternita d'Amore

On Eternità d’amore, Josep María and I assembled a collection of vocal chamber music by Monteverdi and his musical inheritors as a point of departure. The music and decadent history of Venice of the 17th century seemed the perfect subject for the culmination of our respective musical experiences thus far as well as a base to cultivate our ideas. In our quest for repertoire, we opted for works that lend themselves idiomatically to the archlute (and tenor), seeking out exceptional pieces of music best served by performances that are very direct, rich, and detailed. The Venetians performed this music as social currency, as a means to show off their education and cleverness in an intimate setting amongst friends. We set off on this collaboration in a very similar conversational style and wanted the soundscape and performances to reflect this spirit; and so opted to record in a studio setting and with a set of recording techniques which hearkens to the traditions of jazz and popular music.

The largest and most operatic works of the disc, Rovetta’s “Lagrime d’Erminia” and Cavalli’s cantata “À piè d’un bel cipresso,” demonstrate each composer’s mastery of their respective styles. “Lagrime...,” a prime example of the solo madrigal, carries the torch of the recitar cantando we find in Monteverdi’s operas. The singer intones or recites the text with the melodic line and harmonic shifts serving as the inflection. This creates an intense theatricality and emotional immediacy that does not return until the likes of Wagner and Verismo. Cavalli wrote his cantatas in the twighlight of his short life, and we can see the beginnings of the da capo aria (A-B-A) and movement towards the alternation of aria and recitativo of opera seria of the following century. The melodic material here becomes a much more important rhetorical and emotional driving force, and you can hear the deep influence of popular music from this period. The concluding aria shows Cavalli the melodian at his finest.

As for the popular music of the time, the other works on this disc include a mix of Arie and Canzone ranging from the more formal, but deliciously clever Canzone of Legrenzi to the strophic popular songs of Marini. However, the biggest surprises for us were Obizzi and Stefani’s guitar songs whose melodies really set our hair on fire. Stefani’s romanesca, “Eternità d’amore,” pairs an emotionally direct poetry with a studied simplicity of style which we felt really embodies the nature of this project.