Le voyage de Monsieur Monteverdi
from Renaissance to Baroque
Les Arts Florissants
Musical Direction and tenor
Musical editions :
Les Arts Florissants (Pascal Duc)
Claudio Monteverdi did not actually travel very far in his long life ! Born in Cremona he first moved east to Mantua as a young man, a journey of some 65 kilometres. After the death of Duke Vincenzo, Monteverdi again turned east to the famous city-state of Venice, to become Maestro di Capella at St Marc's, where he would remain until his death. 200 kilometres in all… an afternoon drive…
Music and musical performance, however, would take a long and transformative journey during Monteverdi's lifetime from the polyphonic tradition of the late renaissance into which he was born, to monody and public opera at the end of his life; from the collective to the individual and from the reflective to the dramatic.
Claudio Monteverdi was of course central to to this musical revolution, and his madrigals, written throughout his life trace clearly this transformation. We hear his choice of text change from the sweetly epigrammatic to the increasingly dramatic.
His pure vocal polyphony becomes homophonic as the text grows in significance and clarity, and when his singers are joined by continuo instruments we hear solo voices beginning to emerge. As these solos become more consequent, these singers assume musical personalities soon to become specific characters; when these characters sing one to another and are joined by violins and flutes, modern musical theatre is born… Opera is created !
Our concert, conceived for all ages describes in words and music this transformation, guiding the listener in an instructive and amusing way. The a capella singers, happily established in the purity of their polyphony will be interrupted by the arrival of lutes and a harpsichord. Once they are united with their new accompaniment there is general astonishment when one of the singers dares to sing alone... and further consternation when a musical conversation is struck up between two soloists ! No sooner have the singers come to terms with their new expressive pallet when we have further interruptions as string instruments arrive. Finally our choristers are transformed into opera stars and the transformation is complete...
This concert is part of a complete cycle of Monteverdi madrigals being performed by Les Arts Florissants and Paul Agnew throughout Europe between 2011 and 2015, in partnership with the théâtre de Caen and the Cité de la musique.