Within the houses of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the counter-reformation in the 17th century was the catalyst for music to become the tool that transformed the religious doctrines and commandments into a spiritual journey. As a result, the polyphonic tradition eventually gave way to monody and the text became a tool used by the composers to touch people personally. As more religious music began to be written in the vernacular tongue, the pieces became visceral and poignant, giving the audience a more direct means to connect with the biblical stories.

The true art of the 17th century composer was the ability to paint the vivid world of the poetry into the music. This is captured in the meditative Canzonetta Spirituale by Merula, in which the lute imitates the intimate setting of Mary rocking Christ’s cradle, while singing the haunting prediction of pain to come. In Mazzocchi’s Lagrime amare the cries of Mary Magdalene and the agony of the cross are felt in passages of sharp chromaticism, while in Rigatti’s Vali nemiche il sol, St. Peter’s fear of eternal damnation is painted into the mesmerizingly repetitive bass, making it feel as if time is suspended.

With this programme we want to take the listener on a dramatic journey through the eyes of those closest to Jesus: the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalena and the Apostles.

Composers: Antonio Rigatti (c. 1613 – 1648), Johannes Hyronimus Kapsberger (c. 1580 – 1651), Tarquino Merula (1595 – 1665), Francesca Caccini (1587 – 1641), Dominico Mazzocchi (1592 – 1665), Benadetto Ferrari (c. 1603 – 1681), Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643)

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