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Grandi Project: “Celesti fiori”



The first phase of Fondazione Arcadia’s project dedicated to rediscovering the repertoire of Alessandro Grandi (1590 – 1630) focuses on the Venetian composer’s Motets.

The project was recorded for Arcana | Outhere in 2019

Instrumental and vocal ensemble Accademia d’Arcadia
Instrumental ensemble UtFaSol
Conductor Alessandra Rossi Lürig

The program

This project of Accademia d’Arcadia is named after the fifth book of motets by Alessandro Grandi Celesti Fiori, and presents an anthology of pieces aiming to illustrate the manifold aspects of Grandi’s output, of which the most relevant part is constituted by the six books of motets for voices and continuo, and by the books of motets for one and two voices with instruments.

Grandi’s motets indeed present every possible combination of voices, from solo aria to dialogue with independent instrumental parts, to double chorus with instruments, to vocal group of soloists with the ripieno of voices and instruments.

To make a choice, the sources listed on the side have been consulted, which are all unpublished except for the first and fourth book and some single motet. The texts of the motets are differentiated, a cospicous part consisting of verses the Song of Songs and from the Psalms.

Musically, the variety of the first books is impressive: chromaticism, flourishing, alternating tempos and rhythms, are all masterfully used in function of the interpretation of the text.

From the fourth book on (1616) Grandi develops melodic writing in a more solistic style, giving life to true dialogues such as Surge propera – a love duet on a text from the Song of Songs in which the influence of Monteverdi is evident – or as in Anima Christi (from the fifth book) in which greatly expressive chromaticism and dissonances are displayed.

The counterpointistic skills of the author concentrate in the motets for four, five and more voices: pieces for soloists or duets alternate with tutti sections, trio of soloists alternates with the typical vocal/instrumental quartet as ripieno, and numerous other inventive arrays. Of these, magnificent examples are Veniat dilectus meus, (again taken from the Song of Songs) in which the couple of lovers are joined by two tenors whose function is of commenting choir, or Plorabo die ac nocte, the lament of the Virgin Mary with three male characters interposing, During the years he spent in Venice, Grandi turned his composing interest towards the soloist motet with obbligato instrumental sinfonias, a genre which prefigures the cantata, in which he has been an absolute innovator.

Vulnerasti cor meum and Bone Jesu are among the best examples from the first and second books of Motetti con strumenti. Lastly, the Psalm Dixit Dominus (the only non-motetisticpiece in this “ideal collection”) for double chorus and obligato trombones, was chosen as it represents a perfect example of the Venetian technique of cori spezzati.

The pieces

Alessandro Grandi (1590 – 1630)

Quam pulchra es Libro V CC/CATB

Vidi spetiosam Libro I ATTB

O quam tu pulchra es Libro I TTB

Veniat dilectus meus Libro V CTB

In semita Libro I TT

Heu mihi Libro II ATTB

O bone Jesu Libro II ATTB

Salvum fac Libro II CAT

Surge propera Libro IV CB

Domine ne in furore tuo Libro VI CATT

O bone Jesu Libro II ATTB

Plorabo die ac nocte Libro IV CATB

Nisi Dominus Salmi raccolti CATB/ATTB


Download the full program


Fondazione Arcadia