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Choral Guild of ATL Concert: Saturday, Apr 27th, 4:00 p.m.

Madrigals in Bloom

Music of Arcadelt, Schutz, Monteverdi, Sullivan, Rutter, Diemer, Faure, and  PDQ Bach's The Seasonings (S. 1 ½ tsp.), humbly edited by Peter Schickele.


Il Bianco e Dolce Signo – Jacques Arcadelt

Ecco Mormorar L’Onde – Claudio Monteverdi

O Primavera – Heinrich Schütz

Madrigal, Op. 35 – Gabriel Fauré

Brightly Dawns Our Wedding Day from The Mikado – Arthur Sullivan

Banquet Fugue – John Rutter

Three Madrigals – Emma Lou Diemer

I.          O Mistress Mine, Where Are You Roaming?
II.         Take, O Take Those Lips Away
III.        Sigh No More Ladies, Sigh No More


The Seasonings (S. 1 ½ tsp.) – PDQ Bach, humbly edited by Peter Schickele

1.       Tarragon of virtue is full
2.       And there were in the same country
3.       Bide thy thyme
4.       Fugue
5.       Then asked he
6.       By the leeks of Babylon
7.       Then she gave in
8.       Open sesame seeds
9.       So saying
10.   Summer is a cumin seed
11.   To curry favor, favor curry


While the madrigal is thought of as an Italian and later an English style, it grew from Franco-Flemish polyphonic roots as much as from Italian chordal song styles. Jacques Arcadelt from the Netherlands, Philippe Verdelot from France, and Costanzo Festa from Italy are appropriately enough considered the three fathers of the form. Arcadelt's Il bianco e dolce cigno (The White and Sweet Swan) is considered by many to be the epitome of the early Italian four-part madrigal, with its rich harmonies, sophisticated details, and sensual textures. The popularity and influence of his techniques also showed in the work of Monteverdi and Palestrina.

Il bianco e dolce cigno
cantando more, ed io
piangendo giung' al fin del viver mio.
Stran' e diversa sorte,
ch'ei more sconsolato
ed io moro beato.
Morte che nel morire
m'empie di gioia tutto e di desire.
Se nel morir, altro dolor non sento,
di mille mort' il di sarei contento.


The white and sweet swan
dies singing, and I,
weeping, reach the end of my life.
Strange and different fate,
that he dies disconsolate
and I die a blessed death,
which in dying fills me
full of joy and desire.
If in dying, were I to feel no other pain,
I would be content to die a thousand deaths a day.

Torquato Tasso's poem Ecco mormorar l'onde is overflowing with imagery that inspired a miniature masterpiece in which Monteverdi's true individuality and genius are heard for the first time. Every line is set apart by a clear, mildly punctuating cadence to musically illustrate one of Tasso's concrete images in the text. The "murmuring waves" are sung by a single voice; the "trembling leaves" by a brilliant weaving together of three voices; the birds who "gently sing" bring the two top voices out in a flowing descending unison phrase, falling from a high point in their range; and "behold the dawn" is a declamatory burst of joy. This is considered by most to be the finest madrigal in his madrigal book 2.

Ecco mormorar l'onde,
E tremolar le fronde
A l'aura mattutina, e gli arboscelli,
E sovra i verdi rami i vaghi augelli
Cantar soavemente,
E rider l'Oriente;
Ecco già l'alba appare,
E si specchia nel mare,
E rasserena il cielo,
E le campagne imperla il dolce gelo,
E gli alti monti indora:
O bella e vaga Aurora,
L'aura è tua messaggera, e tu de l'aura
Ch'ogni arso cor ristaura.


Now the waves murmur
And the boughs and the shrubs tremble
in the morning breeze,
And on the green branches the pleasant birds
Sing softly
And the east smiles;
Now dawn already appears
And mirrors herself in the sea,
And makes the sky serene,
And the gentle frost impearls the fields
And gilds the high mountains:
O beautiful and gracious Aurora,
The breeze is your messenger, and you the breeze's
Which revives each burnt-out heart.

Heinrich Schütz wrote a significant number of madrigals.  Published in 1611, they testify to the 26 year old  composer's perfect combination of the manner and style of  the Italian genre. His mature musical  personality is completely on display in this music.  Schütz produces a large-scale structure in this piece, and the sound is lush and spacious, even though the melodic ideas more angular and less tuneful.  The prevailing mood is  thoughtful and somewhat melancholy despite the flowing texture of the music.

O primavera, gioventù dell'anno,
Bella madre de' fiori,
D'erbe novelle e di novelli amori!
Tu torni ben, ma teco
Non tornano i sereni
e fortunati dì delle mie gioie.
Tu torni ben, tu torni, 
Ma teco altro non torna,
Che del perduto mio caro tesoro
La rimembranza misera e dolente.
Tu quella sei, pur quella 
Ch'eri pur dianzi sì vezzosa e bella,
Ma non son io quel, che già un tempo fui,
Sì caro agli occhi altrui.


Oh springtime, youth of the year,
 beautiful mother of flowers,
 of new plants and of new loves,
 you return indeed, but with you 
  are not returning the bright
 and lucky days of my joys.
 You return indeed, you return,
 but with you, otherwise, is returning
 only my dear lost treasure's
 memory, sad and sorrowful.
 You are that one, indeed that one
 that you were not long ago, so lovely and beautiful,
 but I am not that one that once I was,
 so valued in the eyes of others.
Fauré’s haunting Madrigal is at first a dialogue between the young men and women of the world, and later an admonishment to both by the older, wiser heads around them. The opening melodic idea is an exact quote of the hymn tune Aus tiefer Not (Out of deep need), perhaps used as a joke by Fauré for his friend, André Messager, who received the piece as a wedding gift in 1883.

Inhumaines qui, sans merci,
Vous raillez de notre souci,

Refrain: Aimez quand on vous aime!

Ingrats qui ne vous doutez pas,
Des rêves éclos sur vos pas,

Sachez ô cruelles beautés,
Que les jours d'aimer sont comptés.

Sachez, amoureux inconstants
Que le bien d'aimer n'a qu'un temps!

Un même destin nous poursuit,
Et notre folie est la meme,

C'est celle de fuir qui nous aime,
C'est celle d'aimer qui nous fuit.


Inhumanly cruel woman, without mercy,
You mock our cares,
Refrain: Love when you are loved!
Ungrateful men, who do not know
The dreams that flower at your feet,
Learn, cruel beauties,
That the days of loving are numbered.
Learn, inconstant lovers,
That the gift of love comes only one time!
The same destiny awaits us
And our folly is the same,
To love the one who shuns us,
To shun the one who loves us.

Brightly Dawns Our Wedding Day is the well-known madrigal from the Gilbert & Sullivan comic operetta, The Mikado. In this scene, Yum-Yum, Nanki-Poo, Pitti-Sing, and Pish-Tush try to cheer themselves up, even though Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo are going to have to die after they get married. (Long story!) This is a bright moment in an otherwise confusing and absurd plot meant to satirize British politics of the time.

 Based on an 1898 children's tale by Kenneth Grahame and with lyrics by David Grant, John Rutter's musical fable The Reluctant Dragon was originally written for performance by Britain's famous King's Singers and the City of London Sinfonia. Coming just before the fable's finale, the amusing Banquet Fugue is a lively show-stopper that will surely entertain and amuse!

 The American composer, Emma Lou Diemer, wrote this piece for the senior high schools of Arlington, Virginia in 1962 as composer-in-residence for Virginia schools under the Ford Foundation Young Composers Project. She later taught music at the University of Maryland and the University of California, Santa Barbara. In this collection of madrigals, she presents passages of the Bards’ thoughts on love from three of his comedies, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, and Much Ado About Nothing respectively.

The Seasonings. This oratorio written during the last of the composer's three creative periods--Contrition. The work was first published in Liverpool by Jonathan "Boozy" Hawkes, who had been one of P. D. Q.'s many drinking companions in Wein-am-Rhein during the Soused Period. Since the original manuscript, or ms., has never been found, and since the first published edition was already in English, with no credit given for the libretto, we can only speculate about the authorship of the text; or, of course, we can simply not think about it at all.