Giovanni Valentini: Secondo libro de madrigaliACRONYM & Les Canards Chantants

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This recording pairs the “brilliant and moving” vocal ensemble Les Canards Chantants with the “groundbreaking, gutsy” (Early Music America Magazine) string band ACRONYM, and consists of the premier recording of Valentini’s Secondo libro de madrigali (1616), the first madrigal collection ever published to call for instruments other than basso continuo.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Performer(s) Time
Total Time 67:45
01O come bello appare
O come bello appare
02Bella Isabella, bella
Bella Isabella, bella
03Queste lacrime mie
Queste lacrime mie
04Chi nudrisse tua speme
Chi nudrisse tua speme
05Ridete pur, ridete
Ridete pur, ridete
06È bello quel che piace
È bello quel che piace
07È sogno o ver? se sogni, ahi chi dipinge
È sogno o ver? se sogni, ahi chi dipinge
08Schiera d’aspri martiri
Schiera d’aspri martiri
09Gioir, gioir fugace
Gioir, gioir fugace
10Neve e rose ha nel volto
Neve e rose ha nel volto
11Ardi contento e taci
Ardi contento e taci
12Ahi, chi mi fa languire
Ahi, chi mi fa languire
13Spente eran nel mio cor l’antiche fiamme
Spente eran nel mio cor l’antiche fiamme
14Ecco maggio seren, chi l’ha vestito
Ecco maggio seren, chi l’ha vestito
15Vagheggiando le bell’onde
Vagheggiando le bell’onde
16Amor amaramente amar mi fai
Amor amaramente amar mi fai
17In bel giardino all’aura amena e grata
In bel giardino all’aura amena e grata
18Guerra, guerra tu brami
Guerra, guerra tu brami

These eighteen songs of love and war are passionate, tempestuous, and overflowing with the beauty of the early Baroque. Giovanni Valentini was born in 1582/3 in or around Venice. In 1614 he joined the court of the Archduke Ferdinand–soon to be the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II–at Graz, and upon Ferdinand’s 1619 election Valentini moved to Vienna to serve as Imperial organist. He succeeded Giovanni Priuli as Hofkapellmeister in 1626, and he was ennobled in 1627. From the 1620s through 1640s Valentini oversaw much of the musical life of Vienna. He was music tutor to the Imperial family and retained his position of Hofkapellmeister under Ferdinand III, who took the throne in 1637. Valentini died in Vienna on April 29/30, 1649.

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From the liner notes:

Giovanni Valentini was born around 1582/3, probably in Venice. A number of both contemporary and later references to him suggest that he was a keyboard player. In 1604 or 1605, he was appointed organist of the Polish court chapel under King Zygmunt III Vasa; his earliest collections of canzoni (Venice, 1609) and motets (Venice, 1611) were printed during his service there. In 1614 he joined the court of the Archduke Ferdinand of Inner Austria at Graz as the ‘newly appointed chamber organist from Poland’. After Ferdinand’s accession to the throne of the Holy Roman Emperor in 1619 as Ferdinand II, Valentini moved to Vienna with the other musicians of the Graz music chapel and in December 1619, he was first imperial court organist with an annual salary of 360 florins. After nearly seven years, on 15 June 1626, Valentini succeeded Giovanni Priuli to the post of the Hofkapellmeister. In 1627, he was ennobled and, at about the same time, accepted the duties of regens chori at the Michaelerkirche in Vienna, until at least 1631. His service as imperial Kapellmeister continued under Ferdinand III (to whom he was a tutor in music), and he was involved in the production of the earliest operas in Vienna during the 1620s and 30s. During his last years he was involved with the composition of sacred dramatic works and writing Italian poetry (including the earliest sepolcri, for which only librettos survive). During Ferdinand III’s reign (1637–57), Valentini, like Johann Jakob Froberger, enjoyed an unusually close relationship with the imperial family, serving as an authority on musical and literary matters. He died in Vienna on 29/30 April 1649.

Note that the CD version includes a full-color 24 page booklet containing texts and translations. Digital version has the same content as a PDF file.

Edition and Notes by Pyrros Bamichas
Italian text edited by Andrea Bornstein
English translations by John Whenham
Published in ASCIMA (Archive of Seventeenth Century Italian Madrigals and Arias)
©2012, the editor, translators, University of Birmingham, and University of Heidelberg
Reproduced with permission

Engineered and Mastered by Ryan Streber, Oktaven Audio
Recorded Aug. 29–Sept. 2, 2015 at Rocking Horse Studio, Pittsfield, NH
Produced by Ryan Streber and Les Canards Chantants
Edited by Ryan Streber, Loren Ludwig, Robin Bier, and Kivie Cahn-Lipman

Design by Marc Wolf
Image editing and processing by Michiyo Suzuki
Art by Johann Thölde[?], attributed to Basil Valentine (1599)
Les Canards Chantants photo by Becky Oehlers Photography
ACRONYM photo by Alice Hixon Kirk
Grateful acknowledgement to Fred Tauber, Deb Sherr, Peter Novom,
and the Avaloch Farm Music Institute
Special thanks to Alice McIvor, Lucia d’Errico, Felicity Laurence, and Chiara Schmitz


Baroque string ensemble ACRONYM is dedicated to giving modern premieres of the wild instrumental music of the seventeenth century. The group formed in 2012 to create the first recording of the "Alphabet Sonatas" of Johann Pezel. ACRONYM's following disc, sonatas by Antonio Bertali, was released in 2014 to critical acclaim; Alex Ross selected it as a CD pick, and Early Music America Magazine wrote "the idiomatic performances and spacious recording by these young musicians are absolutely first rate. This is a disc ... belonging in everyone's collection." In 2015 ACRONYM released a third album—the first recordings of Giovanni Valentini's instrumental works—which was praised in Gramophone for being "played with expertise, enthusiasm, and an almost tactile sense of timbre." In 2016 ACRONYM released its fourth album: Wunderkammer. Upcoming projects include the first recording of Samuel Capricornus's monumental "Jubilus Bernhardi" with the Bach Choir of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.

Les Canards Chantants

Praised for their “polished singing” and for “instilling their superb performances with liveliness and theatricality” (The Boston Musical Intelligencer), as well as for their “brilliant and moving” programming (Early Music America magazine) Les Canards Chantants is a solo-voice ensemble committed to dynamic interpretation of renaissance polyphony. The “singing ducks” have performed to high acclaim throughout the UK and Germany, appearing on BBC One and in venues as diverse as York Minster, The National Centre for Early Music, and Poole’s Cavern. Now based in Philadelphia where they are musical Ensemble in Residence at the Glencairn Museum, Les Canards Chantants’ inaugural season included concerts at the Cathedral Basilica in Philadelphia and the Five Boroughs Music Festival in New York City, collaborations with period-instrument ensembles Piffaro and ACRONYM, residencies at Brown University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an Early Music America Outreach Grant.



Huffington Post

The rough and ready Baroque string band known as ACRONYM presents the first recording of Giovanni Valentini’s “Secondo libro de madrigali” (Venice, 1616), the earliest known madrigal collection to call for instruments other than continuo—exactly four hundred years after its publication.

Valentini was born in 1582 in or around Venice. In 1614 he joined the court of the Archduke Ferdinand at Graz, and upon Ferdinands 1619 election Vaneltini moved to Vienna to serve as Imperial organist. From the 1620s through the 1640s, Valentini oversaw much of the musical life of Vienna. He was music tutor to the Imperial family and retained his position of Hofkapellmeister under Ferdinand III, who took the throne in 1637.

Recorded at a historic 18th-century meeting house in rural New Hampshire, the sound is real and honest, just like the performances.

Defining their interest in forgotten composers such as Valentini, ACRONYM stands for “Altmusik Camerata Resurrecting Old—-but New to You—-Music.”

Valentini might not have appreciated the name, he would certainly have fallen in love with the playing. — Laurence Vittes, Huffington Post, 2.10.2017

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