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The solo madrigal – extract from an article by Janos Melina

October 30, 2007

This is an extract from an article in the CD booklet Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, Madrigals, Hungaroton, HCD 12952 (1988)

The 16th century Italian madrigal was a typical renaissance genre. By the early 17th century, as monody spread victoriously, its transformation into a solo madrigal had tremendous importance for the history of music, since it ultimately formed one of the sources of the cantata. The solo madrigal with a basso continuo accompaniment and in some cases the use of instruments, is sung by one singer, or sometimes in unison by several, but always as a single part and not a portion of a polyphonic fabric. It is thrilling to be able to put one’s finger on so significant a historical development in the lifework of a great composer. Monteverdi began his work as a composer of madrigals by writing regular, late 16th century madrigals in five parts, although they were not regular from every point of view. The parts were later joined by a continuo. Starting with his seventh volume of madrigals (subtitled Concerto), he exclusively composed solo madrigals.

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