02011-09-29 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

A Luca Marenzio moment

The famous opening of this madrigal — a setting of Petrarch’s “Solo e pensoso” (“Alone and pensive”) — has the top voice rising by chromatic steps, over the span of a major ninth; the summit is reached at 0:50. The effect is wonderfully vertiginous, evoking the poet’s solitary wanderings. But the really ecstatic, spine-tingling event occurs at 1:08, when (in the transposition on this recording) the harmony slips eerily from E minor to G minor and then cadences in D major. The reason it sounds like pure Romanticism for a moment is that on the third beat of the G-minor bar (around 1:10) the alto rises from D to E-natural and holds the E into the next bar while the other voices go to D major. The ache of that suspension is universal. Something quite similar happens as Isolde breathes her last (listen for the suspension in the high winds):

(Via Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise)


  1. yumi


    …and a beautiful example included of Kirsten Flagstad’s, Isolde.

  2. dave



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