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Alessandro Grandi’s Cantade et Arie a voce sola of 1620

Dinko Fabris, an Italian scholar and lutenist of the Conservatorio Nicolò Piccini in Bari, Italy, has provided some information about Alessandro Grandi’s 1620 collection Cantade et Arie a voce sola, from which five of the works on Magnificat’s upcoming program are drawn.

In 1620 Alessandro Grandi, published a second edition of his ground-breaking Cantade et Arie a voce sola.  The first edition has long been lost. The importance of this collection of secular pieces lies in the very first use of the word “cantata” in a music publication.  The multi-sectional structure of these solo pieces lays the groundwork for the sectional organization of the later solo cantata.

The only known copy of the 1620 publication resided in the music division of the University Library in Breslau, Germany until the final months of World War II. As the Russians laid siege to Breslau, a bombardment that lasted three months in early 1945, the building housing the music division was hit and caught on fire.  Library personnel saved much of the music collection by throwing it into the surrounding river (the building with the music division lies on an island), but some very important items, including the Grandi Cantade et Arie of 1620 were lost. The only record of the music then lay in an old, difficult-to-read manuscript transcription by the musicologist Alfred Einstein, which is housed in the Music Library at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

What was unknown to musicologists with the exception of Agostino Ziino, and later, Dinko Fabris, was that another copy survived in the private collection of Rodrigo de Zayas in Seville. However, de Zayas has recently provided copies of his print to the Royaumont Foundation in France with permission to Aurelio Bianco of the Université de Tours in France to make an edition, and to Giulia Giovani, a student working on her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Rome under Professor Ziino.

Magnificat is grateful to the cooperation of all these musicologists in making our performances of this music possible. We will be performing from transciptions provided by Bianco and Giovani of the cantatas  Amor altri si duol, Vanne vattene Amor and Udito han pur i Dei as well as two madrigals O Bella Catatrice and Un Cerchietto d’oro. We will also perform one cantata in Grandi third book of Arie et Cantade from 1626, Amor, giustitia Amor. With the exception of the cantata Amor, altri si duol, these works will in all probability be receiving their first performances since the 17th century, and certainly their first North American performances, in Magnificat’s concerts.

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