Madrigal: Da le belle contrade d'oriente
Cipriano de Rore (ca. 1416-ca. 1565)
Her tears, every syllable, provided Cipriano the inspiration of pain tightly held by pleasure. Here we have everything we need. We have the ability to craft musical lines. Not that we must use them, but we have long experience in form, of using minutia to craft large scale pieces. Tonality, the dominance of the triad, is established as a symbol of stability. We have the opposite of stability in moments of strange or strained tonality. We have good poetry and follow every word. Inspired by her, Mr. Rore offers us this thoroughly modern Italian indulgence.
I must say again, these sixteenth century madrigals are pretty but nothing compared to what they are when the listener follows the text closely. Mr. Palisca's literal translations of the text do not make for good poetry (not his intention anyway) but are ideal for those of us who are linguistically limited. With his translation side by side with the original we can follow along and even pick up a few words. Every syllable is a gem. For example, the hard consonance in "Ahi crud' amor!"
What I like about this madrigal is the opening. We hear the middle voices first, as if they were far away, perhaps in the East. Light follows them as the other voices enter and ascend to a beautiful height. Da le belle contrade d'oriente / Chiar' e lieta s'ergea Ciprigna.