WERT, Giaches de. Il secondo libro de madregali a cinque voci

Venice, Antonio Gardano, 1564


Oblong 4to. 3 vols, 3 (out of 5) separate parts for canto, alto and quinto, without tenor and basso. 1): pp. [2], 29, [1]; 2): [2], 29, [1]; 3) [2], 37, [1]. Italic letter, little Roman; naturalistic initials, printer’s device on each title, typeset notes in pentagram; few marginal damp stains. Good copies of three separate voice parts each in modern boards; André Meyer collection stamp on back of rear cover in 3).

Rare second edition of these charming pieces of Renaissance choir music, expanded after the editio princeps of 1561. Giaches de Wert (1535-1596) was a highly influential composer, whose forward-looking production laid the ground for the rise of Baroque music and was taken as a model by Claudio Monteverdi, amongst others. Born in the Flanders, Wert grew up in Italy, travelling from court to court first as a performer and then as a lead musician. He served in particular the Gonzaga and Este families, benefiting from the thriving milieu offered by the cities of Mantua and Ferrara. Although he wrote both sacred and profane music, including some remarkable instrumental fantasias, he is best known for his enjoyable madrigals. Experimenting with this genre, he introduced long-lasting innovations such as a bunch of pioneering monodies (solo songs with instrumental accompaniment) which seem to anticipate the birth of opera. The verses of Petrarch, Bembo, Tasso and Guarini were his main source of inspiration. His sixteen books of madrigals were successfully published from the mid-Cinquecento up to the beginning of the seventeenth-century.

As is typical of multiple-voice composition, this edition has printed parts for each of the five singers which generally would have been acquired separately according to the singers’ particular needs, especially in the case of secular songs. This makes it almost impossible to re-gather anything like original complete set.

Rare. Not in Adams, Brunet or Graesse. BM STC It., 737 (Canto only); RISM, W 862.


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