Graziani: Twelve Cantatas, Op. 25


Twelve Cantatas, Op. 25

From Musiche sagre e morali composte ad una, due, tre e quattro voci, opera XXV, 1678 Biblioteca Vallicelliana, Roma, (RM0281) VI.15.B.34

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SKU: CD-12Cantatas Category:


Opus 25 contains three solo motets for soprano. O che sempre mi scordi, (O how I always forget that I am nothing) [not included on this recording] is a dramatic and challenging vocal setting to a philosophical text on the fragility of human life. Su lieto mio cuore, (0, Be happy my heart, you are protected by Mary) and Generoso pensiero (6, A noble thought nestles within me… to offer up my life to my God) are both religious in nature, as the first expresses con dence in Mary and the second, the desire to die for God.

Three motets in Opus 25 are set for two voices, Mobil nave è nostra vita (3, Our lives are like a moving ship cutting across the sea) for soprano and tenor is another philosophical excursion. Gran tesoro dei mortali (9), also set for soprano and tenor, and Amici pastori (!), for soprano and alto, are Christmas texts that exclaim “O great treasure of all mortals, who gave you such a poor abode”, and “Dear Sun of paradise, your face steals all our hearts.”

Seven motets are set for three voices, Peccator dimmi perché? (8) for soprano, alto, and tenor is a unique text as it is the voice of Jesus who asks “O sinner, tell me why, why does your heart disdain me so?” Germoglino / Combattono (4, A true lover knows the toil and struggle), set for soprano, alto, and tenor, is strophic in two equal parts. Non ho voglia di penar più (5, I do not want to suffer any more) is set for two sopranos and alto. Crudelissime spine / Acutissimi

chiodi (7) is set for alto, tenor and bass. Strophic in two parts, this Lenten/Good Friday text speaks of the “Cruel thorns, that wound my Lord” and the “Sharp nails that wound my Jesus”.

Three of these settings for three voices are called dialogues. Siamo qui Suore fatali (1), set for two sopranos and tenor, has as protagonists The Three Parcae (The Three Fates). The rst fate inserts the needle with the thread of life, the second determines its length and the third cuts it at the established moment in time. The work is not really a dialogue as its through-composed homophonic structure would perhaps suggest they are speaking as one to the listener. True dialogues are to be found in Ecco aperto l’abisso (2) for two sopranos and tenor, and Presso quell sasso for three sopranos [not included on this recording]. The rst is a dialogue between the living and those condemned to hell, the second, a dialogue between Mary Magdalene and two angels. Mal’accorto pensier (@), the largest setting of the “motets” is for three sopranos and tenor and is subtitled On the vanity of the world: “Worldly pleasures are wilting blossoms; heavenly pleasures are stable and true. Noble hearts should observe the beauty of the stars, not of owers”.

In this recording we have ordered these motets differently from the way they appear in the index published in Opus 25. Owing to timing restrictions, as mentioned above, we have omitted O che sempre mi scordi and Presso quell sasso. The recording opens and closes with the philosophical texts which frame the Lenten and Christmastide motets.

~Garrick Comeaux