232 Vocal Chords232 Vocal Chords

Vocal Chords: Music for Cello Ensemble


  • Artist(s): ON THE BRIDGE Ensemble
  • Composer(s): Benjamin Britten, Francesco Cerrato, Giovanni Maria Nanino, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Johann Sebastian Bach, John Dowland, Joseph Noyon, Pierre Petit
  • EAN Code: 7.46160665795
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Cello Ensemble
  • Period: Baroque, Contemporary, Modern
SKU: C00232 Category:

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For our debut recording project, we decided to focus on composers from distant ages. The modern and contemporary repertoires aim to maintain a link with the ancient musical tradition through the careful selection of pieces with a stylistic form inspired by the past. The journey starts from two Renaissance dances, a pavan and an almand from the collection Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares, written by John Dowland when he was employed as lutist to the King Christian IV of Denmark. The choice to play the first piece, Lachrimae Antiquae, with the whole ensemble and a singer – replacing the cantus line with the lyrics of the sung version Flow my tears – was made to start with a rich sound and to show the full potential of the ensemble. The common thread of all Benjamin Britten’s works is the meticulous study of the great English musical tradition from the Elizabethan Age to H. Purcell, in particular Dowland’s work. The ensemble plays here his Boisterous Bourrée from Simple Symphony Op. 4 for string orchestra, in which Britten alternates an agile counterpoint with the English folk dance. As the title suggests, the composer based this work on simple melodies he wrote as a teenager, however the arrangement made it tricky to play. So it was a challenge for us to record it. In this musical journey we have also included some works written for choir, that is Diffusa est gratia by Giovanni Maria Nanino, Hymne à la nuit by Joseph Noyon and two famous chorals by Johann Sebastian Bach. Our version of these pieces does not differ much from the original one, being the sound of the cello so close to the human voice. Therefore, recording these pieces, we have taken into consideration the lyrics with a particular attention to the prosody, so that the instruments could sing like voices in order to highlight the choral qualities of the ensemble. The focus of our recording project is represented by two original works for four cellos: the Toccata by Francesco Cerrato, written for our ensemble and recorded for the first time, and the Suite by Pierre Petit, a little-known piece. Toccata is a late Renaissance musical form that comes from an improvised research on the instrument. The system built on free and vague motifs, the extemporaneous improvisation and the lack of a regular rhythmic and harmonic structure are the peculiar characteristics of Cerrato’s work. The rhythmic elements unfold like a free flow of thoughts and the theme exposed at the beginning changes and shapes itself in time and in harmony or hides between the internal parts of the counterpoint. Instead, the Suite is born from the composer’s desire to make a modern contribution to this chamber music ensemble that over decades had not been considered by composers. The impressionist musical background of Petit can be heard in the polytonal harmony, a malinconic salute to the old French school (we are already in the 50’s). The perfect Sonata Form of the first movement, the persistent rhythm of the second movement which sustains a melancholic and romantic solo of the fourth cello and the Scherzo influenced by Afro-American popular music (swing and blues) suggest that the composer had been inspired by different periods and musical styles. Our musical journey ends with one the most famous work written for cello ensemble: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 for eight cellos and soprano by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. The entire cycle is formed by nine suites written for various combinations of instruments and voices that represent a fusion of the Brazilian popular music with the style of Johann Sebastian Bach, as an attempt to create a Brazilian version of Brandenburg Concerts. The No. 5 is formed by two movements: Ária (Cantilena) and Dança (Martelo). Both have two names: one Bachian, and the other Brazilian. The first is Villa Lobos’s best-known work and it is really close to the famous Air on the G string by J. S. Bach. The second is an embolada, a rapid song of the Brazilian Northeast and its lyrics is a poem of nostalgia for the birds of the Cariri Mountains (in the state of Ceará) whose chirping and singing is often mimicked by the music.
Album Notes: Emanuele Rigamonti, Stefano Cerrato, Francesco Cerrato, Alessandro Brutti, Sergio Locatto


ON THE BRIDGE Ensemble was born in 2019 as an educational project of Stefano Cerrato’s teaching class. Its members are young career musicians that come from different musical backgrounds, all with a lot of experience in chamber music. The ensemble has debuted for the prestigious International Music Festival in Portogruaro (Venice).

STEFANO CERRATO won prestigious international competitions and performed as soloist and chamber music player (also with the prizewinning Trio Caravaggio) in Europe, Africa, Brazil, USA, Korea and Japan, collaborating with famous musicians and conductors. He worked as principal cellist with important orchestras as La Scala in Milan, La Fenice in Venice and A. Toscanini in Parma. He is the principal cellist of Armoniosa, a chamber group specialized in historically informed performance on period instruments. He recorded for the labels Contrastes, MDG, Rubicon Classics and Reddress.

EMANUELE RIGAMONTI graduated in cello and chamber music with honors at the Como Conservatory in the classes of G. Boselli, P. Beschi and F. Valli. Moreover, he studied with E. Bronzi, A. Scacchi and currently with S. Cerrato, P. Maurizzi, Trio di Parma, I. Zats and Trio Atos. He is the cellist of Trio Rigamonti, Eurythmia Quartet and Achrome Ensemble. He is a Da Vinci artist.

BENEDETTA GIOLO graduated with honors at the Como Conservatory under the guidance of D. Bogni. She won the auditions as principal cellist of Orchestra dei Conservatori della Lombardia e del Ticino and as principal and second cellist of Orchestra Giovanile Italiana. She has participated in masterclasses held by G. Sollima, P. Beschi, M. Chen and G. Gnocchi. She is currently studying with S. Cerrato.

SIMONE CEPPETELLI after obtaining the bachelor degree in cello at the Modena Conservatory, he graduated in chamber music with honors at the Piacenza Conservatory in the class of M. Decimo. He attended masterclasses held by E. Bronzi, S. Cerrato, G. Gnocchi, J. Arp and G. Rivinius. He is currently studying with L. Magariello and P. Bonomini. He collaborates with Orchestra L. Cherubini.

SARA MERLINI graduated with full marks at the Bologna Conservatory under the guidance of A. Mostacci. She also studied with G. Déri at F. Liszt Academy in Budapest and currently with M. Prandi at Accademia del Ridotto in Pavia and S. Cerrato. She worked with Tiroler Festspiele Orchesterckademie in Erl for two years. She has been a member of Orchestra Senzaspine since 2015.

MATTEO VERCELLONI after studying at the Novara Conservatory with A. Drufuca, he graduated at the Milan Conservatory with M. Ronchini. Moreover, he studied with G. Scaglione, G. Gnocchi, and R. Filippini. He collaborates with Orchestra Città di Vigevano, Orchestra A. Vivaldi and Orchestra da Camera Canova. He recorded for the label 19’40’’.

ALESSANDRO BRUTTI graduated with full marks at the Mantua Conservatory under the guidance of M. Zante. He was a member of Orchestra Giovanile Italiana and since 2017 he has been working with Orchestra L. Cherubini. He attended masterclasses held by A. Zanin, G. Gnocchi and S. Cerrato. He’s currently studying with D. Scarpa at S. Cecilia Musical Foundation in Portogruaro.

VITTORIO ZELOCCHI is studying at the Modena Conservatory in the class of A. Andriani and at Dedalo Music School in Novara with S. Cerrato. He attended masterclasses held by E. Bronzi and D. Scarpa (at S. Cecilia Musical Foundation in Portogruaro), G. Boselli, V. Paternoster, P. Andriotti, and M. Montore. In 2018 won the audition as principal cellist of Orchestra Giovanile della Via Emilia.


Benjamin Britten (b Lowestoft, 22 Nov 1913; d Aldeburgh, 4 Dec 1976). English composer, conductor and pianist. He and his contemporary Michael Tippett are among several pairs of composers who dominated English art music in the 20th century. Of their music, Britten’s early on achieved, and has maintained, wider international circulation. An exceedingly practical and resourceful musician, Britten worked with increasing determination to recreate the role of leading national composer held during much of his own life by Vaughan Williams, from whom he consciously distanced himself. Notable among his musical and professional achievements are the revival of English opera, initiated by the success of Peter Grimes in 1945; the building of institutions to ensure the continuing viability of musical drama; and outreach to a wider audience, particularly children, in an effort to increase national musical literacy and awareness. Equally important in this was his remaining accessible as a composer, rejecting the modernist ideology of evolution towards a ‘necessary’ obscurity and developing a distinctive tonal language that allowed amateurs and professionals alike to love his work and to enjoy performing and listening to it. Above all, he imbued his works with his own personal concerns, some of them hidden, principally those having to do with his love of men and boys, some more public, like his fiercely held pacifist beliefs, in ways that allowed people to sense the passion and conviction behind them even if unaware of their full implication. He also performed a fascinating, as well as problematic, assimilation of (or rapprochement with) the artistic spoils of the East, attempting an unusual integration of various non-Western musical traditions with his own increasingly linear style.

Giovanni Maria Nanino (b Tivoli, 1543 or 1544; d Rome, 11 March 1607). Italian teacher, maestro di cappella and composer, brother of Giovanni Bernardino Nanino. He was a boy soprano at Vallerano Cathedral (near Viterbo). He may have studied with Palestrina during the early and mid-1560s, when Palestrina was maestro di cappella at S Maria Maggiore in Rome. The identity of ‘Gaudio Mell’, with whom both Nanino and Palestrina are said by some early sources to have studied, is unresolved (see Schuler, 1963, pp.8–9). Nanino became maestro di cappella at S Maria Maggiore some time between 1567 and 1569, probably in 1567 when Palestrina left the post (according to Schuler, 1963). In April 1575 he became maestro di cappella at S Luigi dei Francesi, a post he held until October 1577, when he was admitted as a tenor to the papal choir. For the rest of his life he retained his position as one of about 25 singers in the papal choir. After 1586 he was elected on several occasions to the post of maestro di cappella, to which musicians were appointed in rotation (until the reforms of September 1586 the maestro di cappella had been an ecclesiastic, not a musician). In November 1586 he was sent to Mantua to thank Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga for a favour on behalf of the papal choir. Although the letters written on this occasion say nothing about music, they do give a good indication of Nanino’s methodical and reliable personality.

Heitor Villa-Lobos (b Rio de Janeiro, 5 March 1887; d Rio de Janeiro, 17 Nov 1959). Brazilian composer. Heitor Villa-Lobos stands as the single most significant creative figure in 20th-century Brazilian art music. This significance stems not only from his international recognition, but from his achievement in creating unique compositional styles in which contemporary European techniques and reinterpreted elements of national music are combined. His highly successful career stood as a model for subsequent generations of Brazilian composers.

Johann Sebastian Bach: (b Eisenach, 21 March 1685, d Leipzig; 28 July 1750). Composer and organist. The most important member of the family, his genius combined outstanding performing musicianship with supreme creative powers in which forceful and original inventiveness, technical mastery and intellectual control are perfectly balanced. While it was in the former capacity, as a keyboard virtuoso, that in his lifetime he acquired an almost legendary fame, it is the latter virtues and accomplishments, as a composer, that by the end of the 18th century earned him a unique historical position. His musical language was distinctive and extraordinarily varied, drawing together and surmounting the techniques, the styles and the general achievements of his own and earlier generations and leading on to new perspectives which later ages have received and understood in a great variety of ways.
The first authentic posthumous account of his life, with a summary catalogue of his works, was put together by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel and his pupil J.F. Agricola soon after his death and certainly before March 1751 (published as Nekrolog, 1754). J.N. Forkel planned a detailed Bach biography in the early 1770s and carefully collected first-hand information on Bach, chiefly from his two eldest sons; the book appeared in 1802, by when the Bach Revival had begun and various projected collected editions of Bach’s works were underway; it continues to serve, together with the 1754 obituary and the other 18th-century documents, as the foundation of Bach biography.

John Dowland (b ?London, 1563; bur. London, 20 Feb 1626). English composer and lutenist. He was one of the finest players of his time, and while his music was soon superseded in England, it had a profound influence on the Continent, where he spent much of his career. He is now recognized as the greatest English composer of lute music and lute songs.

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