Madrigal: Vedro l mio sol
Giulio Caccini (ca. 1550-1618)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 3 Tracks 51-53
Caccini reminds us to improve on the new by returning to the old (as best you can). While Giulio and his friends proudly looked to the ancient Greeks for the old, we do not have to look that far to find precedent for this madrigal. Hearing Caccini's tune takes me back to that beauty of the thirteenth century, Beatriz de Dia. The single musical line with light instrumental support appeared perfect while in her control. I think Giulio benefited from his historical distance from her. After so much exploration of chords, Caccini's light instrumental support is able to create a stronger foundation for the singer than we found in Dia's hands.
And it may be because of the figured bass that the voice is able to run up and down those scales with so much assurance. Although it does not stray too far from the initial key, the voice, with the grounding of the bass, is free to pursue the most emotionally charged pitches. Rhythmically the voice is also unfettered while the bass holds the strong beats still.
What I like about this piece is the consistent use of long tones. These pitches are similar to the singer's posture. It is an artificial posture but, because of the conviction of the performer, we are transported by that artifice.