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Concerto madrigalesco

Ercole Bzernabei Concerto madrigalesco by Faenza & Marco Horvat, produced by UNIK ACCESS

Ercole Bernabei (1622/1687)


Myriam Arbouz - soprano
Marine Fribourg - mezzo-soprano
Andrea Gavagnin - countertenor
Francisco Mañalich - tenor, treble and bass viol
Jan Jeroen Bredewold - bass
Anne-Sophie Eiselé - treble and bass viol, lirone
Eliaz Hercelin - bass viol Marco Horvat - theorbo, archlute, lirone, baroque guitar
Caroline Lieby - harp
Ayumi Nakagawa - harpsichord and organ

Distribution Outhere - ENP010

Registered at : Trédrez-Locquèmeau - 2022
Sound recording / Art direction / Editing:
Franck Jaffrès / Unik Access
Design : Sybille Walter

Printed in Rome in 1669, the fifteen pieces of the Concerto madrigalesco a tre voci diverse by Ercole Bernabei (1622-1687) are here recorded in their entirety for the first time.


Fulminate, begli occhi


Già mi minaccia Amore


Altro frutto non colsi


Preludio (théorbe) : Angelo Michele Bartolotti


Non più strali, ben mio


Non più strali, ben mio


Toccata (clavecin) : Giacomo Simonelli


Perch’io vado lontano


Non merita pietà


Ti lascio, anima mia


Ardo tacito amante


Ch’io non v’ami?


Passacaglie (clavecin) : Bernardo Pasquini


Spira dagl’occhi suoi


Tal’hora intento in un bel volto


Ardo e taccio il mio mal


Bei labbri, io non vi chieggio


Preludio (guitare) : Angelo Michele Bartolotti


Oh se poteste mai (prima parte)


Hor se ’l gelo de gl’anni (seconda parte)

Interviews / Anne-Madeleine Goulet: Director of Research at the CNRS Marco Horvat: Artistic Director of the Faenza Ensemble

Historical background

In the 17th century, the court of Rome referred to both the pontifical court and the courts held by princes and cardinals. These diverse cultural centres prevented a single form of control and offered areas of freedom and creativity, which explains why so many artists offered their services. Printed in 1669, the fifteen pieces in Ercole Bernabei's Concerto madrigalesco take us into the intimacy of a leading member of the Roman aristocracy: Flavio Orsini, Duke of Bracciano, to whom they are dedicated. Among the musicians protected by the Duke was Ercole Bernabei (1622-1687), who was the teacher of Alessandro Stradella and Agostino Steffani. This recording offers a glimpse into the tastes that prevailed among the great families of the time, who were convinced that the arts, and music in particular, showed off their power as much as the delicacy and refinement of their patrons.

Why Ercole Bernabei?

Faenza is an ensemble born of the desire to discover and promote forgotten composers, repertoires and performance practices. The recording of Ercole Bernabei's madrigals adds a new stone to this edifice, which always combines research and interpretation.

1. As far as composers are concerned, we devoted a recording to Giulio San Pietro de' Negri, a Milanese musician of great importance, of whom only a few scattered pieces had been recorded until then. We were also the first to discover and release the Airs à quatre parties by Charles Dassoucy, a composer whose music was thought to have been lost.

2. In terms of repertoire, for example, we have unearthed the madrigals of Giovanni Zamboni, whose lute repertoire was all that was known, and given new life to the spiritual parody of court airs with "La Semaine mystique". More recently, we have been interested in the musical settings of La Fontaine's fables in the eighteenth century ("Le Bestiaire fabuleux").

3. As far as performance practices are concerned, that of "singing on the instrument" (singing while accompanying oneself) constitutes the main originality of the ensemble ("Il Giardino di Giulio Caccini", "Le Délire des lyres" in particular). We have also worked on comédies à écriteaux with 'Polichinelle et Orphée aux Enfers' and, in the coming years, we will be tackling the vast field of comic opera in vaudeville, a form that poses serious performance challenges.

How would you describe Bernabei's music?

Bernabei's music is at once virtuoso and highly expressive, rigorous and full of invention, rooted in tradition and transgressive. It explores all the colours of three-part counterpoint, using combinations of different voices and original expressive devices. Despite a rather conventional poetic universe and a uniform love theme, the performers and listeners remain constantly alert, so unexpected are the effects and discoveries. This is truly great music, which we have the chance to hear and defend for the first time.

How did you approach the recording?

First of all, we assembled a team of five singers who were capable of taking on the delicate exercise of absolute control of intonation and voice control, without which polyphony cannot sound, and who could assume the expressiveness required by the seconda prattica, where the text must take precedence over the music. We then had to familiarise ourselves with Bernabei's very particular style. In particular, we had to define the colours of the continuo with instrumentation that effectively accompanied the affetti - in France we would call them 'passions' - but without ostentation, since the text and the singing had to take precedence at all times. We were lucky enough to work in the beautiful acoustics of the church of Saint Martin in Trédrez. Franck Jaffrès's artistic direction guided us towards ever greater expressivity, while maintaining the precision and accuracy that polyphony demands.

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