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Monday, April 12, 2004
  L'Orfeo, a) Prologue, La Musica: Dal mio Permesso
Claudio Monteverdi
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 4 Tracks 1-6

Claudio knew not to be first. Though he may have been a more gifted composer than Peri, his chief advantage in regard to this opera was that he had Peri's effort to improve upon. Either because of his gift alone or the combination of his gift with avant guard of the time, it is Monteverdi's oeuvre that assimilates the Renaissance into the modern.

It is likely that most listeners compare this prologue to Peri's. In doing so, one is intrigued by the singer's line. Though each stanza is set to music that is generally the same, the subtle differences work against the listener's memory of the pervious stanza. It is the dissonance of these differences against your memory that will hold your attention. Part of what makes this work so well is the austerity of the music. For instance, the opening phrase is a simple repetition of single note. And because we soon, with grace, fall from this pitch, we hold on to that note as we progress into the ancient story.

What I like about this prologue is the last note of the singer's part. She avoids returning to that memorable opening pitch which, effective for an introduction, creates an ellipse. 

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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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