College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Ensemble & Other Performances, Volume 1 Page: 86
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"Sfogava con le stelle" from II quarto libro de madrigali a cinque voce (1603)
As the Renaissance gave way to the Baroque, Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
stood as the leader of a new generation of composers at the turn of the seventeenth century.
His influence has been deemed so significant that one musicological monograph went
so far as to name Monteverdi "creator of modem music." Indeed, Monteverdi was a
pioneer of many new musical and aesthetic ideals. His seconda prattica--in which, as
Monteverdi's brother Giulio described, the harmony becomes the servant of the text-was
revolutionary and would become the basis for nearly all Baroque aesthetics during the
succeeding one hundred years.
Claudio Monteverdi also produced some of the first great works in the nascent
genre of opera. This work was no doubt linked to his earlier development as a composer
of madrigals, and a clear evolution can be seen in his fourth and fifth books of madrigals
for five voices (published in 1603 and 1605, respectively). While the fifth book points
decidedly toward creating a dramatic narrative structure throughout (i.e., toward opera),
the fourth book serves as a retrospective anthology, incorporating works of various styles
and influences from the decade leading up to its publication.
"Sfogava con le stelle" is the fourth madrigal in the collection and stands out for
its expressive use of falsobordone, or declamatory style. In this manner of singing, the
choir quickly moves through the text in a quasi-speech like fashion. One can hear this
practice at the outset of "Sfogava" as the narrator sets the scene for the listener, and several
more times during the piece, providing structural points throughout the work. Set to a text
by Ottavio Rinuccini, it tells of a love-stricken man who pours out his anguish to the stars
in an effort to affect their help in making his lover reciprocate his feelings.
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University of North Texas. College of Music. College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Ensemble & Other Performances, Volume 1, book, 2012; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc114723/m1/87/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Music Library.