|Alba Tressina: 4 Motets (1-3 voices) & motets (2-4 voices and violins) by Leone Leoni|
|Vulnerasti cor meum||A|
|In nomine Iesu||AA|
|O quam tu pulcher||SST|
|Sumite citharas||TTTT or SSSS|
|Laudate Dominum||AT (or AS), 2 vlns|
Price: €19 or $19USD
This volume contains the only known compositions by Alba Tressina, a Clarissan nun at the convent of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Vicenza (in the Veneto region, about 80 km. from Venice). They are contained in a print by her teacher, Leone Leoni (b. Verona, c. 1560; d. Vicenza, 24 June 1627). Leoni was a priest and maestro di cappella at Vicenza Cathedral from 1588 until his death. He was also a member of the Accademia Olimpica, the Confraternity of Divine Love, and maestro della musica of the Pia Opera dell Incoronata. His output includes large-scale sacred works and secular madrigals, but his motets for fewer voices enjoyed particular success, judging from the numerous reprints and their appearance in anthologies in both Italy and abroad.
Leonis collection, Sacri Fiori. Quarto libro de Motetti a una, due, tre et quattro voci, con il Basso per sonar nell’Organo (Vincenti, Venice, 1622) contains 4 compositions by Tressina, together with 21 others of his own. The original print (RISM L2011) is missing the Canto II partbook at the Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica in Bologna but is complete at the Biblioteka Jagiellonska in Krakow.
The majority of pieces in the collection are for treble voices, a fact that makes them especially suited for convent performance. Only 2 works call for basses, and when tenors are needed, the range of the part rarely goes below e, and therefore falls within the range of a low alto. Many of the motets, including two by Tressina herself, are settings of texts from the beautifully sensual Song of Songs, a popular source of material for 17th-century composers, both outside and inside the cloisters. Even the joyfully musical “Sumite citharas”, invoking a multitude of musical instruments and voices, concludes surprisingly with a languid Anima mea liquefacta est. The other motet included here which specifically mentions music is “Laudate Dominum”, the only work in the collection to call for obbligato violins (si placet, i.e., if desired).
Leoni clearly intended this collection to be of service for a multitude of occasions. The motet “Iste Sanctus” is an appropriate text in honor of any martyr and confessor, and “Congregate sunt” (interesting for its setting of two polyphonic voices over a recurring chant, uses the letter N. (Nomen) to represent the name of the chosen saint. The motet “Hc est” also leaves the saint unnamed, in this case a virgin martyr, a particularly appropriate subject for the convent.
Nearly all of the works included here are performable by womens voices in their original version. The only exceptions are “Sumite citharas”, scored for four tenors, and “Laudate Dominum”, for alto, tenor and 2 violins. In the case of a womens performance, the tenor parts may be sung in treble, rather than octave-treble, clefs. For this reason, this volume has been issued in a single edition, rather than in our more common Original Version and Version for Womens Voices.