Flexi Quintet – Monteverdi, 5th Book of Madrigals (1605) – 19. Questi vaghi


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The Fifth book of madrigals starts to see much more development towards
operatic style writing, with more songs being strung together to form
scenas and with the addition of accompaniment on instruments. Some of
these songs can be written by incorporating the accompaniment into the
parts for those instruments which are resting, some will require more
than a quintet. Certainly as we get into the next three books, reduction
to a quintet will become increasingly more difficult, if not

The final song from book 5 shows quite an advance on the previously
(relatively) simple writing. Here we have a full SATB ensemble plus a
quite detailed continuo. Questi vaghi (These wandering little birds)
also has a more complex structure, being, by itself a scena, split into
sections by ritornelli which he calls Sinfonias. At this stage, they
are by no means substantial enough to be considered preludes or
interludes, but merely dances between the sections of the song.

Because of this added complexity, I have had to arrange the piece for
a 9-part brass choir. There is some overlap and crossover between the
continuo and choral parts to accommodate the different groupings needed
for each section. The ritornello sections need to be played more lightly
and in a skipping style to add contrast between the ‘vocal sections’.

Parts supplied:

Part 1 in Bb/C (Treble)

Part 2 in Bb/C (Treble)

Part 3 in F/Eb/Bb/C (Alto)

Part 4 in Bb/C (Bass)

Part 5 in Bb/Eb/C (Bass)

Additional information

Ensemble Type

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Flexible Instrumentation

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Medieval and Renaissance


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