Claudio Monteverdi Madrigals of War and Love
St. Thomas Aquinas, Palo Alto
St. Mark's Episcopal, Berkeley
St. Mark's Lutheran, San Francisco
Catherine Webster, soprano Jennifer Paulino, soprano Andrew Rader, countertenor Paul Elliott, tenor Daniel Hutchings, tenor Peter Becker, bass Rob Diggins, violin Jolianne von Einem, violin Elisabeth Reed, viola da gamba Julie Jeffrey, viola da gamba John Dornenburg, violone Nigel North, lute Jillon Stoppels Dupree, harpsichord
In 1638, Claudio Monteverdi, the seventy-one year-old music director of the ducal church of St. Mark's in Venice, published his Eighth Book of Madrigals, the final collection of his secular music to be issued in his lifetime. The Eighth Book has a retrospective character, bringing together music written as early as 1608, and was subtitled “Madrigals of War and Love.” The poetry in collection repeatedly expound the interlocking themes of love and war-- the warrior as lover, the lover as warrior and the war between the sexes. In Monteverdi's preface to the Eighth Book, the composer describes three emotional levels or styles of the music: the “soft” style for languishing and sorrowful emotions, the “tempered” style for emotionally neutral recitations, and a third “agitated” style, he claims to have invented himself.
Background image from Paolo Veronese, Venus and Mars United by Love, 1570s, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.