Personalities | Jacques Arcadelt | Renaissance | Classical
(Zhak Är’-ka-delt) c. 1505–68
Although probably of French birth, Arcadelt spent much of his adulthood in the great Italian cities of Florence, Rome and Venice. He is best known for madrigals (although he composed Masses, motets and chansons as well), including some of the genre’s most precious gems. They are almost all easy to sing, but their simplicity is deceptive. The justly famous ‘Il bianco e dolce cigno’ (‘The White and Gentle Swan’), with its play on the term ‘death’, uses word-painting and other devices to amuse and delight its singers. For example, the poem’s final line, ‘If this is death, I would like to die 1,000 deaths a day’ (mille morte il di) is set to a musical joke: each singer repeats the phrase many times in a figurative 1,000 deaths.
English and Italian Renaissance Madrigals, Hilliard Ensemble (dir) Paul Hillier (Virgin/Erato)
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