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Sunday, April 18, 2004
  L'Orfeo, b) Act II, Orfeo: Vi ricorda (excerpt)
Claudio Monteverdi
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 4 Tracks 7-8

The "fade-out" was not a Monteverdi device. It is a little unfortunate that this collection does not include the entirety of this canzonet. Though moments away from hearing the bad news, this is when we are able to see Orfeo feeling optimistic about the future and surrounded by friends. It is vital that the listener understands Orfeo to be the strong, talented person undeserving of calamity that we encounter with this tune. It is also important to understand that Monteverdi, Striggio and those at the premier were not interested in tragedy. This aria gives us a hint that, in this telling, Orfeo and Euridice will find a happy ending. Their brush with the underworld is, for them and us, an experience that enhances their happy love. As Orfeo explains, after grief one is the more content.

Orfeo proudly walks in front of the chorus with rhythms familiar to his audience. This music is intended to be contagious. Orfeo frequently steps aside to allow the listeners to place themselves in the orchestra. And his melodic lines move in a clear direction with assertive rhythm.

What I like about these melodic lines is when they descend in thirds. This happens at the end of each strophe. Because the rest of the tune either descends or ascends without detour, these roving flourishes provide that happy contrast that is the subject of Striggio's poem.

Also read Jane Glover on performing L'Orfeo in Chicago. 

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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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