Notes and Editorial Reviews
Motetti in Cantilena
, Op. 5
Roberto Balcone, cond; Ens Cantimbanco
TACTUS TC 570201 (50:56)
Stefano Bernardi (1577-1637) is found on a few discs in my collection, including a Magnificat by Konrad Ruhland, a motet by the Isaak Ensemble of Heidelberg, and brief pieces by Gabriel Garrido and Doulce Mémoire. But a Mass, two Magnificats, and other works are also available currently, though this must be the first full disc of his music. Bernardi came out of the
cathedral and the Accademia in Verona and went to Rome for four years. In 1611 he returned to take charge of both institutions, succeeding G. F. Anerio at the cathedral. Like Anerio, he followed the
, which was still new. (Note that he is a contemporary of Monteverdi.) This op. 5 was published in Venice in 1613 with six sonatas and 20 motets for four voices on familiar, mostly liturgical texts. (The texts can be found on the label’s website.) These are very brief pieces, only one track on the disc exceeding three minutes. The ensemble includes a dozen singers and a continuo group (including harpsichord as well as organ), occasionally adding three cornetts and a trombone.
The unfamiliar ensemble approaches these miniatures with a light touch. Solo lines are sometimes heard briefly, reflecting favorably on the singers, and together they blend harmoniously. The informative notes place this publication in the context of contemporary books in similar style by Ludovico Viadana, Gabriele Fattorini, Giovanni Croce, G. P. Cima, and Alessandro Grandi, only the first dating as much as a decade earlier. We usually read about more famous composers when the development of
is recounted, so Bernardi expands our grasp of the times. The notes cover the period in detail. If Bernardi must be compared with his contemporaries, he might be ranked lower than Monteverdi, as talent compared with genius. Still, this disc enlarges our frame of reference for the early-Baroque period. Specialists will find it interesting.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Motetti in cantilena by Stefano Bernardi
Written: by 1613
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