Cozzolani Project Releases New Track - O caeli cives
The Cozzolani Project‘s latest release is the five-voice dialogue for St Catherine of Alexandria, O cæli cives (1650). As in a few other pieces, the ‘singing angels’ to whom musical nuns were often compared, form one side of this dialogue, while two voices represent the faithful on earth.
In his seminal work on the music of Milan’s convents, Celestial Sirens, Robert Kendrick suggests that O cæli cives may have been originally composed in 1649 for the feast day of her convent’s patron saint, Radegund, whose name scans in Latin like Catherine’s. Kendrick notes “the poetic conceit of the dialogue, which features humans (soprano and mezzo-soprano on Magnificat’s recording) asking angels (three sopranos – two sopranos and mezzo-soprano on the recording) for the saint’s resting-place immediately after her death, was described in Agostino Lampugnani’s Della vita di S. Radegonda (Milan, 1649).”
The imagery in the text is similar to that in Simone Peterzano’s painting The Mystic Marriage of Alexandria with Sts. Radegund and Justina of Padua [ca. 1585], formerly the high alterpiece in the chiesa esteriore of the convent of S. Radegonda, now preserved in S. Maria della Passione in Milan.Kendrick notes the parallels between the commissioning of such paintings and the dedications in motet compositions by nuns:
“The emphasis on the patron(ess) saint or Marian iconography found in such paintings would echo the themes of the early motet dedications to nuns; ultimately it reflected the devotional life of patrician families. Sanctoral cults mirrored and provided a public focus for the civic religion of aristocratic clans in early modern Italy.”
Magnificat’s recording features sopranos Catherine Webster, Andrea Fullington, and mezzo-soprano Deborah Rentz-Moore as the ‘Angels’ and soprano Jennifer Ellis-Kampani and mezzo-soprano Meg Bragle as ‘The Faithful’. The singers are as always by David Tayler, theorbo and Hanneke van Proosdij, organ.
The two volume complete works of Cozzolani can be pre-ordered at cozzolani.com/subscribe . All those pre-ordering receive free digital downloads of all tracks – those currently available and new tracks as they become available. Please visit cozzolani.com for more information about Cozzolani and these recordings.