Amorosa Fenice (Amorous Phoenix)

The Music of Giulio San Pietro de' Negri

Brochures and technical specifications

Of all the fascinating, but little-known today, figures who populated the world of Italian song in the early seventeenth century, Giulio Santo Pietro de’ Negri must be one of the most interesting. He seems to have published at least eleven editions of songs or motets between c. 1605 and 1620. It has been clear since the earliest studies of this repertory that the through-composed songs include startlingly original settings, even by the experimental standards of the time.

Giulio San Pietro was a “gentilhuomo genovese” by virtue of his ancestry, but he had grown up and had his first musical experiences in Lecce, and was thus a Southerner by birth and training. Several of the poems in praise of the composer printed in his song-books mention his talents as a singer. None of the editions, however, mention a musical job, a position that would have been beneath his social status. Putting all this together, there are some parallels with better-known figures of his time, such as the nobleman from Palermo Sigismondo d’India [...] or the Sienese patrician Claudio Saracini. Both these figures composed innovative song-books, and Giulio seems to fit into the category of the noble but not strictly professional musician, not bound by compositional rules (or training), who employed new musical means to set texts.

De’ Negri’s works show a musical world that is not as evident as the very public life of courts and cathedrals: the domestic noble and patrician circles of Puglia, Lombardy and Liguria, with their gentlemen amateurs, female dedicatees, semi-public virtuosi, and — most importantly — openness to new and experimental musical techniques. Compared to the musical life of courts and cathedrals, it is harder to perceive this kind of cultural circle through surviving documentary evidence, but it was no less important.

Robert L. Kendrick (University of Chicago)

  • Music by Giulio San Pietro de’ Negri, Giovanni Ghizzolo, Francesco Rognoni, and Antonio Valera
  • Olga Pitarch: vocals
  • Brigitte Vinson: vocals
  • Jeffrey Thompson: vocals
  • Emmanuel Vistorky: vocals
  • Marco Horvat: vocals, lirone, Baroque guitar, theorbo
  • Matthieu Boutineau: harpsichord, a second harpsichord with gut strings
  • Charles-Edouard Fantin: theorbo, Baroque guitar
  • Christine Plubeau: bass viol
  • Magali Imbert: recorders

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Translations by Sally Gordon Mark

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