Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda
Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (SV 153) is a madrigale raappresentativo by Claudio Monteverdi. Its text was taken from Torquato Tasso’s epic poem Jerusalem Delivered (Canto XII) and the action takes place prior to the liberation of Jerusalem during the First Crusade. Il Combattimento was published in 1638, together with several other pieces in composer’s 8th Book of Madrigals (Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi), but was first performed 12 years before, as written in the introduction to the piece.
The story tells of the Christian knight Tancredi who, during a crusade to the Holy Land, fights a Muslim warrior Clorinda, disguised as man. During a night battle in which she sets the Christian siege tower on fire, she is killed by Tancredi. Only after killing her, he discovers her identity and baptizes his beloved Clorinda.
Monteverdi wrote a brief introduction to the piece, where he gives precious hints on the performance practice and information about stile recitativo. It states that the voice should be firm, present good pronunciation and use no ornaments except for specific places the composer indicates. Il Combattimento… has also the primate of having the first written pizzicato in the history of the music (qui si strappano le corde con due dita = pluck the strings with two fingers), and contains many other instrumental indications like bow vibrato and written-out dynamics.
Contrasto Armonico and Marcel Beekman present a repertoire focused on the tenor voice, the most important register at the time of Monteverdi. Instrumental music comments the virtuosity of Marcel Beekman, completing the programme with works by Girolamo Frescobaldi, Giovanni Paolo Cima and Giovanni Gabrieli. The artists follow the period’s practice by carefully choosing the instruments by the register in which they perform. Monteverdi himself asked for quattro viole da brazzo: soprano, alto, tenore e basso which produce the sound very different from classical string quartet thanks to the fact that each instrument plays in its best register (two upper strings).
Marcel Beekman – tenor
Stefan Plewniak – violin
Enrique Gómez-Cabrero Fernández – violin, viola da braccio contralto
Helmut Riebl – viola da braccio tenore
Pierre-Augustin Lay – viola da braccio basso
Marco Vitale – cembalo