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Aliento Seráfico
Baroque Chamber Music from Italy and Spain

Sonora Hungarica Consort

CF 005 0608

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Sonora Hungarica Consort


Diego Ortiz: Recercada quinta (1:41)

Diego Ortiz: Recercada segunda (1:51)

Diego Ortiz: Recercada segunda sobre O felici occhi mei (1:34)

Dario Castello: Sonata prima (4:53)

Dario Castello: Quarta sonata (4:30)

Girolamo Frescobali: Canzona nona (3:13)

Bartolome de Selma y Salaverde: Canzona (5:11)

Bartolome de Selma y Salaverde: Vestiva i colli (3:47)

Georg Friedrich Händel: Nel dolce dell’ oblio

Antonio Vivaldi: All’ ombra di sospetto

Georg Friedrich Händel: Mi palpita il cor

Liner notes

The first part of this album chooses from the different instrumental music genres at the beginning of the 17th century, which base upon the vocal music of that age, using its means of expression as well. The recercada (ricercar), sonata and the canzona take shape in that period, many times with indistinct genre verges, with mixed-up genre definition, influenced by the fast developing instruments of that age, the demands of the audience and the improving printing possibilities. The second part of the recording takes us to vocal music, casting a glance at another typical stage of the era, the cantata of the early 18th century.

Diego Ortiz (1510?—?) inscribed his name upon the pages of the history of music with his work called Tratado de glosas sobre cláusulas y otros géneros de puntos en la música de violones, published in Rome in 1553. It was the first printed piece of music in Europe that recorded and documented the practice of instrumental improvisation of the age for a string instrument (viola da gamba) and guitar (tecla). At the time of its publication, this practice was almost a hundred years old and it embodied the acoustic ideal and the performing practice of the Renaissance based on ancient models: an improvised, virtuoso tune was played over a repeated bass, or extemporised variations of a part from another composition were performed. Ortiz’s work is of historical importance because it was the first publication where the style and playing method of professional performers were revealed, systematised and disclosed for amateur musicians. The Recercada quinta and the Recercada segunda are based on the popular repeated bass tunes of that age called romanesca and ruggiero.

The most significant change in European music took place in Italy in the early 17th century. The stile moderno fundamentally changed the purposes of composers and the demands of the audience. Instrumental music also followed these new objectives, expressing human sentences, thoughts and emotions without words. One of the intellectual centres of the modern style was the music workshop of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, with the artistic leadership of Claudio Monteverdi. In the 1620—30s Dario Castello also worked here as the leader of instrumental musicians. We do not know any more about his life, he may have been a victim of the plague in 1630, when two thirds of the city’s population died. Castello’s sonatas cannot be compared to 18—19th century works of the same genre. This instrumental genre, similar to the canzona, means that the piece should be played and not sung (sonare: to play an instrument). We are now at the beginning of the history of the sonata, where the prefiguration of sung music —cantatas, operas, madrigals— can be definitely felt. In 1621 and 1629 Castello published works with one movement, divided into several parts. The parts are clearly separated from each other and represent a different character. The keys of the parts are also varied; it is in these decades that the character of keys and the tradition of playing one piece in one given key are formed. The order of fast—slow—fast phases is more and more deliberate — the three separate movements of the sonata will develop from these phases later.

The œuvre of Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583—1643) is one of the most outstanding performances of European keyboard music. His works and virtuoso performing abilities had a great impact on subsequent generations. In the preface of one of his numerous publications he detailed the way of performing his works, which description was a base of reference for both performers and researchers for many centuries. In 1628 he published a collection containing canzonas played on different instruments. This volume was completely transcribed in 1634. The piece called Gualterina on our CD is from this collection. Gualterina is a name of a woman. The other works with similar titles occasionally refer to a popular melody, but in most cases they are products of the composer’s imagination, and are accompanied by one to four instruments. The Gualterina is played by treble I and treble II, accompanied by the bass.

Bartalome de Selma y Salavarde was born somewhere in Spain between 1580 and 1590. He was trained musically as a monk in the Augustine order. According to the documents, he served in Archduke Leopold’ chapel in Innsbruck between 1628 and 1630. Later his name appeared in Venice and in the records of other ducal courts, and also on the cover page of his only printed work from 1638, Primo Libro Canzoni, Fantasie et Correnti da suonar a 1, 2, 3, 4 voci con Basso Continuo. The recommendation contains the name of John Charles, Archduke of Poland and Sweden, and we can feel the Polish influence in the style of his works. Consequently he may have had Polish connections and may have died in Poland or Austria. Both canzonas on our recording are from this collection. The piece called Vestiva i colli is a variation for the soprano and bass voices of the well-known madrigal with the same title, and the style of this variation suggests that the art of Diego Ortiz may have played an important part in Selma’s music studies. At the same time, he knew well the genre characters represented by Italian publications from the first decades of the 17th century, containing similar pieces. The second canzona made for a solo instrument stands closer to the features of the early sonata, with phases of different parts, odd or even beats, slow and fast tempo markings.

At the beginning of the 1700s, Georg Friedrich Händel had been a rising figure in the music life of Hamburg for ten years. In 1706 he travelled to Florence following Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici, where he also composed some secular cantatas during his several months’ stay. The cantata Nel dolce dell’ oblio may have been born in this period. This piece follows the traditional form of the Italian cantata with four movements, the order recitative—aria—recitative—aria, helps to express the message. By writing recitatives confidently, Händel proved his masterly knowledge of the Italian musical language and the language itself.

The importance of Antonio Vivaldi’s œuvre is first of all proved by his instrumental pieces. A lot of his operas, oratorios, church and secular cantatas had been forgotten until their re-discovery in the 20th century. His extant works became known after winding up a monastery and after surmountig great difficulties in accessing a count’s bequest. In 1939 some of the almost unknown Vivaldi works could be performed.

According to the traditions of the period, G. F. Händel’s cantata, Mi palpita il cor was composed with several instrumental arrangements and text versions. It is possible that the first version was made during Händel’s London stay, but he also used its music in his later oratorio, Samson. He transcribed the text four times, in soprano, alto, obligate instrumental and solo voice versions. One of them is the Cantata HWV 106. These versions prove the flexibility of baroque composers and the general idea that the content of one piece can be expressed in various forms. This practice has its roots in the improvising tradition of early baroque pieces. Our recording sounds the alto version of this music; the obligate accompaniment is played by the recorder.

Géza Klembala


Instruments: viol: Pavel Celý, 2004, after Jakob Steiner, 1762. Alto recorder: von Huene Jr., after Jacob Denner. Voice flute: Joachim Rohmer, 2003. Harpsichord: Jan Becicka, Stanislav Hűttl, Petr Sefl, 2004, after Pascal Taskin, 1769. Positive organ: József Solti, 2002.

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