Marenzio’s collection of the Sacrae Cantiones was published posthumously in 1616, and was brought about by Giovanni Maria Piccioni, an obscure musician from Brescia. According to Piccioni, this collection was a youthful work, composed “in ipso juventutis flore adhuc ephebus”.
Since in classical Latin the word “ephebus” refers to a youth between 16 and 20 years of age, it is probable that the collection dates to the period of 1570-1575.
Piccioni specifies that Marenzio conceived it “in patria”, that is to say, in Coccaglio (Brescia), his hometown. Nonetheless, the presence of works dedicated to Saint Cecilia (“Caeciliam cantate” and “Dum aurora finem daret”) and to Pope Martin (“Hic est Martinus electus”) —both Roman martyrs—gives credence to the hypothesis that the work was commissioned by cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo, who in those years had taken the young composer into his service and brought him to the Eternal City.
This collection occupies a special place in Marenzio’s sacred production. In each of the works, one is struck by the complexity of the polyphony, fairly far from the contrapuntal transparency of the late Cinquecento.
One might theorize an archaic influence on the part of Giovanni Contino, allegedly the teacher to Marenzio and a musican who was greatly admired by Cardinal Madruzzo.
Yet a comparison between the two versions of the “Salve Regina” which the composers both constructed upon the same Gregorian incipit reveals in Marenzio an unmistakably modern harmonic sensibility.
As for the extraordinary contrapuntal ability evident in each of the Sacrae Cantiones, this might interpreted as a significant anticipation of the more complex works which would soon appear in the celebrated Primo libro de” madrigali a cinque voci (1580).
In this light, the illuminating opinion of the musicologist Hans Engel is still valid.
Engel considered certain of these pieces “not only the most precious part of sacred music from that period, but the most precious of any ever written, the testimony of a pure and profound religious sense; far from being coldly objective, it is, instead, deeply personal.”
1 - Salve regina: Salve regina - (2:39)
2 - Salve regina: Eia ergo, advocata nostra - (1:15)
3 - Salve regina: Et Jesum benedictum (1:44)
4 - Caeciliam cantate (2:55)
5 - Dum aurora finem daret: Dum aurora finem daret - (2:40)
6 - Dum aurora finem daret: Virgo gloriosa (3:17)
7 - Veni sponsa Christi (2:14)
8 - Domine quando veneris: Domine quando veneris - (3:00)
9 - Domine quando veneris: Commissa mea pavesco (2:39)
10 - Domine ne in furore tuo: Domine ne in furore tuo - (2:29)
11 - Domine ne in furore tuo: Et anima mea turbata (2:55)
12 - Levavi oculos: Levavi oculos - (2:01)
13 - Levavi oculos: Non det in commotionem (1:49)
14 - Antequam comedam suspiro: Antequam comedam suspiro - (3:28)
15 - Antequam comedam suspiro: Nonne dissimulavi (2:49)
16 - Hic est Martinus electus (3:27)
Responsum accepit Simeon
17 - Responsum accepit Simeon (1:53)
Et Jesum benedictum
18 - Et Jesum benedictum (2:30)
Et Jesum benedictum (arr. for viola da gamba and organ)
19 - Et Jesum benedictum (arr. for viola da gamba and organ) (1:24)
Ex Patre Patris
20 - Ex Patre Patris (4:51)
- Composer: MARENZIO LUCA
- Performers: Progetto Musica – cantus: Simona Nicolo, Maria Francesca Garbaccio; altus: Monica Tressoldi, Mara Colombo; tenor: Giovanni Fiandino, Domenico Monetta, Gigi Gariboldi; bassus: Carlo Cavagna, Domenico Monetta; violone e viola da gamba: Luca Ferrari; organo positivo: Giuseppe Radin; clavicembalo: Giulio Monaco – Coro Gregoriano di Progetto Musica
- Historical Period: Humanism and Renaissance
- Code: TC 551304
- Edition: 1999
- Barcode: 8007194101379
- Set: 1
- Total tracks: 20
- Total duration: 00:52:12