The Young Monteverdi and His Master: Canzonettas and Madrigals


  • Artist(s): Angela Troilo, Anna Giuseppina Mosconi, Antonio Lorenzoni, Daniele Salvatore, Emanuela Di Cretico, Jiangchen He, Marcella Ventura, Naoko Tanigaki, Niccolò Roda, Roberto Cascio
  • Composer(s): Claudio Monteverdi, Marc'Antonio Ingegneri
  • EAN Code: 7.46160913643
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Chorus, Recorder, Viola da Gamba, Voice
  • Period: Baroque
  • Publication year: 2021
SKU: C00529 Category:

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In Italy, the sixteenth century coincides with both the highest splendour and the gradual fading of the Rinascimento, the unique Italian version of the Renaissance. It included an unparalleled flourishing of the visual arts – from painting to sculpture to architecture, but not limited to these –, the ripening of the humanist movement with its rediscovery of the Classical past and its literary fruits, and an exquisite blossoming of musical genres and works. It was also a deeply contradictory time. Striking inequalities characterized the socioeconomical status of the inhabitants of the peninsula. The extraordinary legacy of the Renaissance in terms of artworks was the paradoxical result of strong rivalries among the cities and states of what is today’s Italy. More significantly, it was a time of saints and sinners, and both in the highest degree: lasciviousness and immorality characterized the lives of many aristocrats and clergy, but, at the same time, great saints such as Carlo Borromeo or Philip Neri were offering new models of holiness, proposing a Catholic response to the abuses denounced by the Protestants, and embodying the spiritual elan of the Council of Trent.
Within this atmosphere, two musicians lived and flourished. Approximately three decades separate the births of Marc’Antonio Ingegneri and of Claudio Monteverdi: the space of a generation characterizes their relationship, very close to that of a father and of a son. Ingegneri was born in Verona. In his teens, he left his family and was admitted to the prestigious Scuola accolitale (acolytes’ school) of the Cathedral, where many of the finest musicians of the time either taught or studied. There, he had the possibility of being exposed to the centuries-old tradition of Franco-Flemish polyphony, but also to familiarize himself with the new, exquisitely Italian trends of word-setting. Ingegneri must have been also a good violin player, as he briefly worked in this capacity in Venice. However, his life would soon turn otherwise; in particular, he was attached to the splendid court of Parma, where Cipriano de Rore (another Flemish composer) was operating. Ingegneri soon demonstrated his talent and skill, publishing his first books of madrigals before or around his thirtieth birthday. At approximately the same time, he moved to Cremona, where his professionality began to properly shine. While successfully establishing himself as a great musician and respected teacher in Cremona, he also maintained ties with the other major cities and courts of northern Italy, as well as with Rome. In his forties, he was appointed praefectus musicus of the Cathedral church, leading various musical ensembles for the worship of the Cathedral, and fostering in particular the increasing use of musical instruments in liturgy. The publication of his sacred works followed that of his secular output: he had no less than five madrigal books printed between 1579 and 1587, and his collections of motets, masses, responsories, lamentations and polychoral works appeared between 1586 and 1591. This mirrors his careful consideration of the dictates of the Tridentine Council and of how they had been interpreted; in turn, this attention was certainly fostered by his closeness with bishop Niccolò Sfondrati, who could become Pope Gregory XIII. In his pontificate, Gregory would commission the revision of the Gregorian repertoire to Palestrina and Zoilo, thus bearing witness to his great attention for the musical aspect of liturgy.
One of the many merits of Ingegneri, and not the least, is to have given impressed the right direction to the first musical studies of young Claudio Monteverdi, who toiled under his guidance in his native city of Cremona. Their relationship must have been fruitful from the musical viewpoint, but also positive in human terms, since the first published works of a teenage Monteverdi explicitly identified the composer as a disciple of Ingegneri. Even though the personality of the young genius is already evident in his first essays, his teacher’s influence is undeniable; the close comparison of their styles, as allowed by this Da Vinci Classics album, fosters a better understanding of both, and promotes our clearer appreciation of their similarities and differences.
Chiara Bertoglio © 2021

Il Secondo libro a Quattro voci con due arie di canzone francese per sonare by Marc’Antonio Ingegneri was published first in Venice, in 1579, by Angelo Gardano. It was reprinted in 1584; in that year, again in Venice but by the printing press of Giacomo Vincenzi, et Ricciardo Amadino, compagni, were issued the three partbooks of the Canzonette a tre voci: di Claudio Monteverde Cremonese, Discepolo del sig. Marc’Antonio Ingegneri, nuovamente poste in luce.

The genre of the canzonetta was much in vogue in those years. Among the many examples, one has only to consider the beautiful and elegant Roman publications by Simone Verovio in the 1580s and 1590s. They are particularly noteworthy thanks to their valuable tablatures for the harpsichord and lute. Not only do they introduce the practice of instrumental accompaniment; they also help to face the complex problem of the use of so-called chiavette. The clefs of various pieces, in the harpsichord and lute tablatures, are altered with respect to what is indicated on the vocal parts. Pieces are more often lowered by a fifth, at times by a fourth or something else (a sixth, a tone) with respect to the key signatures in the vocal lines. This already signifies, in itself, that in reality the parts could be performed by a different ensemble than that indicated by the clefs. It so happens, therefore, that a score written in the G-clef, soprano and tenor clef is found in the tablature (and therefore performed) by an ensemble of cantus, alto and bass, or by cantus, tenor and bass. By comparing the vocal parts with the tablatures, for example, one notices that very often the canzonettas having the bass-clef in the lowest part are found in the same key in the tablature. Often, as regards the lute tablature, the instrument’s upper part is taken from the middle part of the vocal ensemble, and not from the highest part (that of cantus written in the soprano or G-clef).

The 21 canzonettas by Monteverdi are variedly combined. Ten of them are in the following clefs, respectively for the first, second and third part: G-clef, G-clef, and alto; four in G-clef, soprano, and alto; four in G-clef, G-clef and mezzosoprano; two in soprano, soprano, and tenor; one in soprano, soprano, and alto.
The three partbooks of this work are destined for CANTUS, TENOR and BASS, and this regardless of the signature evidenced by the voices. Therefore, for example, we find 15 canzonettas having the alto clef in the lowest voice; in the second partbook, dedicated to the TENOR, we find no staff in the tenor clef, but only G-clefs and soprano clefs (no alto- or bass-clefs either). The timbral variety permitted by the use of chiavette is very wide; by specifying the roles highlighted by the partbooks of Monteverdi’s canzonettas, this is further increased.

For the realization of this discographic project, we thought of presenting Monteverdi’s canzonettas following the vocal registers found in the partbooks, i.e. CANTUS, TENOR, BASS.

In the transcriptions realized by ourselves, the cantus part was maintained as such (i.e. the one in the first book labelled CANTUS), while the remaining intonations were lowered by an octave (as we have seen, they are mostly expressed in the mezzosoprano or alto clef). Needless to say, in many coeval scores (and this phenomenon would increase in the following years), indications “per canto, ò vero tenore” are frequent. They therefore authorize us to lower by an octave the key signature originally indicated in the soprano- or G-clef. An analogous consideration can be extended to the alto clef, which, when lowered by an octave, becomes a bass part. The complicated use of chiavette (which, as I was saying, can be clarified and directed by the harpsichord and lute tablatures in the above-mentioned prints by Simone Verovio) lends itself to different timbral solutions: a performance by two cantus and alto, as per the original signatures; a freer one, including transpositions (prevailingly by a fourth or fifth); and, one may add, the one prescribed by the vocal registers of the partbook (by lowering the two voices below the Cantus by an octave).

Moreover, in the realization of this project, we chose to present the pieces in their integral structure, without reducing either the parts or the stanzas. Almost all canzonettas, following the repeat signs and the double bars, have a structure AA BC BCC, which we maintained as such.

The contraposition of the free and open form of Ingegneri’s madrigals forms a beautiful contrast with the closed and repetitive form of the canzonettas. Two roles, that of the teacher and that of the pupil; two ages; two genres, for two different vocal styles.

To the madrigals’ intellectualism and gravity, canzonettas oppose their simplicity and “lightness” (the transparent and consonant polyphonic fabric makes it light indeed, even in its most melancholic vein). To the sad, composed, and languid expressions of love griefs (one of which, very intense though brief, is found also in young Monteverdi’s Canzonette d’amore) are juxtaposed the detached adventures of a flea among the hidden beauties of a woman. To the sweetness of a gaze coming from beautiful eyes is juxtaposed the sensuous carnality of Giulia’s playful syllabication (with a scarcely hidden allusion to a bewitching garden), countering in turn the respectful and hearty declamation by Serena in Parto da Voi. And how can one avoid juxtaposing the delicate atmosphere surrounding the rose (similar to a young virgin) in the alba ruggiadosa, to whom né gregge né pastor se gli avvicina, to the noisy morning awakening of the shepherds, who, in Sù, sù, sù, joyfully singing, pay their riverenza a l’Alba, to the sun that s’inalba, and who, probably, in their frenzy, would not have paid the least attention to any rose?
Roberto Cascio © 2021


Roberto Cascio is the founder and director of the Cappella Musicale di San Giacomo Maggiore di Bologna. He is also the artistic Director of the festival “Microfestival di Musica Antica e Teatro” whose activity takes places at the “Oratorio della Beata Vergine di Caravaggio”, which is part of the “Museo della Civiltà Contadina” in Cremona. He graduated in lute at the Royal College of London with Jacob Lindberg and at the Conservatory of Verona with Orlando Cristoforetti. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Società del Liuto in 2020-1. He is the founder of the company Teatro Antico, with which several comedies, intermezzi and sacred representations written between the sixteenth and eighteenth century were realized in a scenic form and with stage music (realized by the Cappella Musicale di San Giacomo). They also realized scenic representations of several intermezzi.
He realized several published recordings, among which the complete works of the Tuscan Augustinian Ippolito Ghezzi. For Da Vinci Publishing he edited the scores of Ippolito Ghezzi’s complete oeuvre, and Il Filosofo, an intermezzo by Lorenzo Petronio Gibelli, on lyrics by Carlo Goldoni. In 2020 he received an important official token of recognition from the Prior of the General Order of the Augustinian Fathers, thanks to the results of his activity of research, transcription and realization of the music, and, in general, of the culture of the Augustinian Order.


Claudio Monteverdi: (b Cremona, 15 May 1567; d Venice, 29 Nov 1643). Italian composer. The most important musician in late 16th- and early 17th-century Italy, he excelled in nearly all the major genres of the period. His nine books of madrigals consolidated the achievement of the late Renaissance masters and cultivated new aesthetic and stylistic paradigms for the musical Baroque. In his operas for Mantua and Venice he took the experiments of the Florentines and developed powerful ways of expressing and structuring musical drama. His three major collections of liturgical and devotional music transcend the merely functional, exploiting a rich panoply of text-expressive and contrapuntal-structural techniques. Although he composed little or no independent instrumental music, his writing for instruments was genuinely innovative. Schrade’s famous assessment (1950) of Monteverdi as ‘creator of modern music’ may be exaggerated, but his significant place in music history is assured

Ingegneri [Ingegnieri, Ingignieri, Ingignero, Inzegneri], Marc’Antonio
(b Verona, 1535–6; d Cremona, 1 July 1592). Italian composer and instrumentalist. He was an important madrigalist and composer of sacred music in the north Italian tradition. He taught Monteverdi, in whose early music particularly his influence is strongly heard.