Montserrat Figueras, soprano
Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654) : Pavan – Galliard Battaglia
Battaglia and lamento are two genres which cover the whole range of musical expression in both the vocal and the instrumental music of the 17th century. These two distinct musical forms are nevertheless similar in content, in that they both bring historical events back to life.
The battaglia had its origins at the beginning of the 16th century, but Italy rapidly became the ideal place for this musical form to flourish, since the country was the favourite battleground between France and the Habsburgs. As reflections of scenes from life, the musical means used in these compositions reproduce the experience of reality: trumpet fanfares, drums, the clashing of swords, battle-cries, vivid rhythms, repeated notes, pipes, etc., as for example in Giuseppe Guami’s Canzon sopra la Battaglia or Samuel Scheidt’s Pavan & Galliard Battaglie. They were very popular in Venice at the beginning of the 17th century, and St Mark’s was the ideal place for them to be performed (Canzon in Echo, by Bastiano Chilese and Canzon III a 6 by Giovanni Gabrieli).
At the same time, the musical genre of the lamento was founded in 1608 by Claudio Monteverdi with the passionate lament of Arianna, a model imitated by numerous composers, notably Jacopo Peri whose Lamento di Iole is the only surviving fragment of a missing projected opera. Whether written as stage or chamber music, the lamento was the reflection of the inner anguish of a human being. They can be traced to various causes: the death of a sovereign, separation from a loved one, defeat or pain suffered under foreign domination, etc. The lamento, therefore, is like the battaglia in that both forms are linked to political events (as, for example, Nicoló Fontei’s Pianto d’Erinna or Barbara Strozzi’s Lamento).
With an almost exclusively Italian programme, this CD is constructed like a dramatic work around four central lamenti. Preceded by battaglie, they show the clear link that exists between the two musical genres. Recorded during the 1980s, (most of them for the first time on CD), these lamenti retain all their original freshness and form a perfect combination with these recently recorded Battaglie, thanks to their very similar sound-takes. Finally, and most importantly, Montserrat Figueras shows extraordinary spontaneity, infusing each of these pieces with its own individual emotion, thanks to an almost theatrical use of her voice.