Ten of Paolo da Firenze’s eleven surviving madrigals are in two parts. Basing on the flourishing tradition of three-part madrigals crowding Italian sources of the time, however, Mala Punica experiments by improvising additional polyphony, both vocal and instrumental.
Un pellegrin uccel tells the story of a lady and her sparrow-hawk as an obscure metaphor of love and loyalty.
This is the only one of Ciconia’s motets believed to have been composed during his sojourn in Rome in the 1390s. It features three different texts praising Trani’s patron, San Nicola ‘pellegrino’ (Saint Nicholas the Pilgrim) and perhaps Jacobus Cubellus, the new bishop of Trani from 1393. Its striking resemblance to the series of motets Ciconia composed in Padua in the first decade of the 15th century has posed the question of the stylistic influences between the Veneto and Rome in the 1390s.
Cantasi come was a label added to a number of liturgical or devotional poems of the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century to be sung using secular tunes of the time. This setting—simply labelled Alleluja in its only source—is based on a lost ballata which features a highly expressive tenor line made up of a succession of octave leaps.
The Codex Faenza—originating from North-East Italy in the first quarter of the 15th century—contains the earliest polyphonic alternatim mass settings that have come down to us: three missae breves (pairs of Kyrie-Gloria settings) in which unaccompanied voices alternate with rich instrumental ornamentations. One of the Kyrie settings, however, only features an ornament in the first verse of the plainchant, suggesting its independent use as a dismissal formula (Benedicamus Domino, Ite missa est). Here we compare it to the Kyrie setting of the second missa brevis in the Codex, sung on the trope Cunctipotens genitor Deus.
— Jacques Merlet
Thanks to Esteban Hernández Castelló and Giacomo Golinelli.
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