Flexi Quintet – Monteverdi, 6th Book of Madrigals (1614) – 06. Una donna fra I’ altre


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As part of my continuing project to transcribe Monteverdi’s
madrigals onto winds, here is the 6th book. In this book we see a much
greater development towards dramatic representation. In a way, this book
is divisible into two Scenes with a number of single items in between.
The vocal lines are all much more complex and we can also see the
beginnings of monodic writing appear in the semi-recit sections of some
of the songs.

Also clearly developing are delineations of the voices into soloists
and chorus. Several songs in this book are almost akin to arias, with
clear soloistic writing for the higher voices (Cantus/Tenor).

The first four songs form a kind of introductory ‘scena’, which
Monteverdi calls “Lamento d’Arianna”. A little later, there is a set of 6
songs which he grouped together under the title “Sestina”.

Here, the
6th song is describing “One woman amongst the others, honest and beautiful”.
Now, there’s flattery for you! There is a subtitle to this song
“Concertato nel clavicembalo” – “Conducted from the harpsichord”.
Obviously, this is not possible in this transcription. The continuo part
has been incorporated into the rests of all of the parts, without
swamping the leading voices.

As with all things madrigalian, the lyrics are rife with double
entendres. Monteverdi uses some very close dissonances to describe death
and release.

Additional information

Ensemble Type

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Flexible Instrumentation

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Medieval and Renaissance


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