In dedicating her new book of motets – Latin-texted compositions to be sung in and out of liturgy – to the Tuscan prince Mathias de’ Medici (1613-67) on Mathias’ name-day (the feast of his patron saint), 25 February 1642, the Benedictine nun composer Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (1602-c. 1677) expressed her homage thus:
The favor that your Serene Highness did for me by raising these my musical compositions from their native low state to the height of your praise [“basso” and “alto” are musical puns] … leaves me no other power to which to dedicate them other than to your protection … I offer you notes bright [“chiare”, i.e. “open” note-values like whole-notes, but with a play on the composer’s name] and dark [i.e. the “blackened” eighth- and sixteenth-notes] … and the blacker they are, the faster they run to make themselves tributes … to your name.
Mathias would have heard some of the twenty motets and perhaps the Mass Ordinary included in Cozzolani’s book during his stay in Milan in February 1641, which would have included visits to hear the famed singing nuns of Cozzolani’s convent, Santa Radegonda. The prince was well known as a patron of singers across Italy with a special inter- est in the touring companies that would bring early Venetian opera to a wide range of cities and courts as the pioneering work of Lorenzo Bianconi and Thomas Walker has shown.
From Cozzolani’s point of view, her book also represented a step forward. Her now-lost op. 1 had been published by a local printer in Milan in 1640, but the new book was entrusted to the high-quality music printer Alessandro Vincenti in Venice which ensured a wide circulation for the motets. Indeed, one of them, the duet O dulcis Iesu, was reprinted in a motet anthology of 1649 from Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) compiled by a Lutheran organist and another, the solo Concinant linguae, is found in a later French manuscript with an attribution to Giacomo Carissimi.
Magnificat and Musica Omnia are pleased to announce the release of Concerti Sacri, the second volume of the complete works of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani. The digital tracks are already available for download at music.cozzolani.com and the physical CDs will be released at the Boston Early Music Festival in June. This double CD set marks the completion of Magnificat’s project to record all of Cozzolani’s works that survive complete. Volume I, Salmi a Otto Voci, was released in June 2010. The cover artwork is an oil painting on gold leaf by Magnificat creative director Nika Korniyenko.
This recording is dedicated to the memory of Judith Nelson. While Judy’s voice is not heard on these recordings, her spirit – the honesty of her artisrty and the warmth and sincerity of her musicianship - is present throughout. It was Judy who introduced me to Donna Chiara and the performance of O quam bonus es with her in 1997 was the catalyst for all the love and energy we’ve shared with Cozzolani in the years that followed, for which we are all deeply grateful.
Sixteen of the tracks on Concerti Sacri have been available digitally for over a year, while nine tracks are available now for the first time. For those who have purchased the digital recording without the new tracks, or for those who would like to hear only the new tracks they are available independently here. As always those pre-ordering the CD will receive the digital tracks as well as the CD.
Cozzolani included a setting of each of the four Marian Antiphons in her 1642 collection, Concerti sacri. “Alma redemptoris mater” is published for soprano and bass and for Magnificat’s performance the bass part has been transposed up an octave. Magnificat’s recording features soprano Catherine Webster and mezzo-soprano Deborah Rentz-Moore with David Tayler, theorbo and Hanneke van Proosidj, organ.
Another release – and this time one of the musicians’ favorites. The four voice motet Psallite, superi sets a text for the Assumption (August 15); its refrain frames a series of questions whose answers are taken from a standard Song of Songs verse used on the liturgy of that day in Cozzolani’s Benedictine breviary. The form of this dialogue also derives from the cantilena motets pioneered in Alessandro Grandi’s book of 1619. The scoring (two sopranos, two altos) points directly to the all-women choir of S. Radegonda’s nuns, the ensemble which presumably premiered most of Cozzolani’s music.
The Cozzolani Project is pleased to announce the release of our first new track from Volume II of the complete works of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, the Christmas motet Ecce annuntio vobis featuring soprano Jennifer Ellis Kampani. After some delays, we have know begun the process of completing the post-production of the remaining motets that were recorded last summer.
The Christmas motet Ecce annuntio vobis was published in the collection Concerti Sacri in 1642. It is one of 16 solo motets by Cozzolani and one of only four that have survived complete. The text is a paraphrase of the angelic announcement of the birth of Christ found in Luke 2:10-14.
Jennifer has appeared regularly with Magnificat since her debut as "Gelosia" in Marco Marrazoli's Il Capriccio in 1997. She will be featured in Magnificat's concerts on the weekend of February 4-6, 2011 in a program of music by four remarkable women composers of ...
The Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale in Bologna is like mecca for scholars of 17th century music. It houses the collection of the renowned 18th century composer, teacher and scholar Giovanni Battista Martini, known as ‘Padre Martini’. Most of his massive collection of music prints (estimated by Dr. Burney at over 17,000 volumes) was donated to the Civico Museo on his death.
Magnificat and Musica Omnia have released another track from the first volume of Cozzolani's complete works. With the release of Confitebor tibi Domine, all of Cozzolani's eight voice settings are now available. You can listen and download from this link.
If the first psalm, Dixit Dominus, with its unusual refrain, constantly varying textures and martial affect represents one side of Cozzolani’s 1650 collection, Confitebor tibi displays another. The concertato duet and trio writing found in the first psalm are present here as well as are the tutti declamatory, martial and antiphonal sections. Read More
The collection, the Salmi a otto voci concertati… which has been recorded in its entirety by Magnificat for Musica Omnia was Cozzolani’s fourth published in the short span of ten years (1640-50; one publication survives complete, one incompletely, and the first seems completely lost).
The Cozzolani Project’s recordings of the complete works of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (1602-c.1677), testify to both her own musical creativity and to the high skills of the musicians in her Benedictine house of Santa Radegonda in Milan, across the street from the city’s cathedral.
Magnificat is pleased to release our recording of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani’s setting of the psalm Laudate Dominum, which features soprano Jennifer Ellis Kampani. Laudate Dominum is one of only two works by the composer involving obbligato instruments and her only psalm setting for solo voice. As with her second setting of Laudate pueri, Cozzolani adds two violins to the texture and, as in that psalm, the violins are used here both to punctuate the text with ritornelli and in interactive dialogue with the voice.
Click Here to Stream and Download Cozzolani's Beatus vir
Magnificat and Musica Omnia are pleased to announce our latest release – Cozzolani’s extraordinary setting of the psalm Beatus vir. Taking the characteristics of the “salmi bizarri” to an extreme, here Cozzolani manipulates the psalm text into a dialogue and collects ritornelli as she makes her way through the text. The recording features sopranos Catherine Webster, Jennifer Ellis Kampani, Ruth Escher and Andrea Fullington; altos Meg Bragle, Karen Clark, Suzanne Jubenville and Elizabeth Anker; and a continuo team of John Dornenburg, violone, David Tayler, theorbo and Hanneke van Proosdij, organ, with Warren Stewart conducting.
Magnificat first performed this compositional tour de force on the San Francisco Early Music Society series in 1999, with later performances at the 2002 Berkeley Early Music Festival, on the Music Before 1800 series in New York in 2003, and in 2007 for the Society for Seventeenth ...
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 low voices represent the faithful on earth.
Magnificat and Musica Omnia are pleased to announce the release of Cozzolani’s second setting of the psalm Laudate pueri (à 6), one of only two of her works that call for obbligato instruments in addition to voices and basso continuo. Like her setting of Laudate Dominum for solo soprano, the Laudate pueri à 6 includes parts for two violins.
To mark Women’s History Month, Public Radio Exchange (PRX) has posted an hour long program celebrating some of the remarkable women in music from the Baroque, including Magnificat’s recording of Dixit Dominus by Chiara Margarita Cozzolani.
Over recent weeks I have been re-discovering the amazing music of Donna Chiara Margarita Cozzolani and the extraordinary talents of the ladies (and a few gentlemen) of Magnificat who brought it all to life. It seems hardly possible that the first of these recordings took place a decade ago, beginning in August 2000, marking one of Musica Omnia's very first projects (We began recording Jaap Schroeder and Penelope Crawford's Atlantis Ensemble the same year.)
Having released two "liturgical" versions of a fairly hefty sampling of Cozzolani's music from both 1642 and the grander collection of 1650, we are now finally mining the remaining wealth of material that we captured and preserved all those years ago in order to realize our original goal of presenting all the surviving music by this wonderful and unique composer, who for me exemplifies the second generation of composers of the Italian Baroque.
I can recall the atmosphere ...
David Tayler has scanned some photos from the August 2001 Cozzolani recording sessions at St. Stephen's in Belvedere - have a look.
Here's a photo of "The Cast" from August 2001.
The Cozzolani Project is pleased to announce the release of a new track, the Christmas/Epiphany motet Quis audivit unquam tale.
As with most of the non-liturgical texts set by Cozzolani, the author of Quis audivit unquam tale is unknown, but there are references to Song of Songs 3:11 and the Gospel of John 1:14. The motet is notable for its variety of textures, alternating antiphonal motives and invertible counterpoint and florid declamatory writing with unexpected extensions of melodic ideas. Word painting for the parallel expressions of ascending and descending and for the contrast of the Kingdom of Heaven and the humble manger make this one of the most immediately attractive of Cozzolani’s works.
In the 1650 publication, Quis audivit unquam tale is scored for two sopranos and bass and Magnificat’s recording features Catherine Webster and Jennifer Ellis Kampani along with contralto Elizabeth Anker, who sings some of the bass part at pitch ...
Who has ever heard of such a thing?
Who has ever seen something like this?
Marvel, O heaven;
Wonder, O earth;
Behold, O universe.
God has descended to flesh, and flesh has ascended to God.
The Word has become flesh.
The virgin adores Him whom she bore.
O deepest descent, O highest ascent!
He lies on hay in a manger Who sits on the throne of glory in heaven;
He mingles with rough animals Who is praised by angelic choirs;
He is quiet at His mother’s breast Who always speaks in the lap of His father.
He is hidden in a lowly stable, but is shown to the world by a shining star;
He is wrapped in swaddling clothes but is visited by kings;
He cries and weeps Who is the laughter and joy of Paradise.
Behold, what majesty, behold, what humility: majesty inside, humility outside, power inside, infancy outside, the riches of divinity inside, the poverty of humanity outside.
O true birth, most worthy of ...
The Cozzolani Project’s first new release is one of the composer’s most immediately appealing works, in which she vividly captures the brilliance and wonder of the Christmas narrative. In an almost theatrical gesture, Chiara Margarita Cozzolani instructs the four singers to imitate the Angelic choir disappearing as they ascend back to Heaven after announcing their good news to the awestruck shepherds.
Magnificat's recording Vespro della Beata Vergine included a third CD called "Beyond the Notes" - Salmi Bizarri: Cozzolani and the music of Milanese convents. Patterned on the talks that precede each Magnificat concert, on this CD I discussed aspects of Cozzolani's life and music with musical examples.
This introduction to the life and music of Cozzolani is now available in streaming audio here:
Click Here to download this podcast