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Alessandro Grandi
1586 - 1630
Italy
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A. Grandi
Alessandro (de) Grandi (1586 – after 06/1630) was a northern Italian composer of late Renaissance and the early Baroque era, writing in the new concertato style. He was one of the most inventive, influential and popular composers of his time. He was probably born in Ferrara or Messina and spent the first part of his life there, likely studying with Giovanni Gabrieli (c1520-1586) at Venice, which was nearby. He held several posts in Ferrara as maestro di cappella at different cathedrals and academies. From 1617 Grandi was cantore, vice maestro di cappella and maestro di canto at the famous St. Mark's in Venice, during the time Monteverdi was choirmaster/ maestro di cappella there. Since 1617 Alessandro Grandi is singer/cantore in the Choir at St. Mark’s. From 1620 Grandi was at St. Mark’s Monteverdi's deputy/ vice maestro di cappella, and during this time Grandi seems to have chosen to write works in some of the smaller forms. In 1627 he went to Bergamo in leaving the famous St. Mark’s due to an opportunity to be maestro di cappella at a place where he could build up the music program from the beginning/scratch. Only three years later in 1630, Grandi died in Bergamo suffering a severe outbreak of the plague. A lot of his prolific work has been preserved at St. Mark’s. See the editions made by the Illustro Cantores Sancti Marci Venezia in Venice.
Author:Wim Goossens
Versa est in luctum
Period:Late Renaissance
Composed in:1614c
Musical form:motet à 5 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin Officium Defunctorum
Duration:3'59''
Label(s):Divine Art 25062
Versa est in Luctum is a plainchant from the Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum Responsory from Matins of the Dead set by Alessandro Grandi in a motet for five voices (CATTB) and basso continuo. The Versa est in luctum is an old Responsorium and even used and set by for instance Francisco de Peñalosa (c.1470-1528), Alonso Lobo (c.1535-1617), Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611), Sebastián de Vivanco (c.1550-1622), Estêvão Lopes Morago (c.1575-1630), Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (c.1590-1664) and José de Torres y Martinez Bravo (1665-1738). Those settings from “Versa est in luctum” have to be considered as an Iberian inheritance. There are about 138 Responsoria de Officium Defunctorum known and used during centuries in the Office of the Dead. They are all well ordered. The Versa est in Luctum is Respond nr 95. To this Repond belongs Versicle nr. 43 Cutis mea. The text is from the book of Job and has become in certain European regions a Respond in the Office of the Dead. This Respond is found with some introductions in two Offices of the Dead in Lyon. And from there it is spread into Europe. The settings in Spain and Portugal are taken from contemporary chant books containing responds which are deemed suitable for funeral purposes. In some instances, a motet was sung between the oration and the absolution. It was in any case traditional at that time to include some extra motets at the end of a Requiem Mass.
The text Versa est in luctum was not a direct part of the traditional Spanish liturgy but much more an extra-liturgical motet during the Obsequies of very important dignitaries of State or Church.
We think Alessandro Grandi in Italy must have found special inspiration in this motet, especially for funeral purposes. Nevertheless the text of this motet used by Grandi is a compilation of verses from the book Job XXX, 31, 20-21and 23, where the three last verses are not identical with the better-known funeral text Versa est in Luctum. But the first sentence/verse does. We may suspect the hand of a 'librettist' providing texts to Alessandro Grandi expressly for the purpose of musical setting and certain occasions. We consider this Versa est in luctum due to a fervent and intense expression of deep mourning and the chosen a-minor with a glimpse of hope at the end a motet indeed used for funeral purposes. The text and music of this motet are penitential in feeling.
Grandi faces musically in this motet both ways: backwards with counterpoint, forwards with monody. Several of the motets by Grandi start with solo voice and continuo, the other parts joining later. This splendid five part motet by Grandi starts in counterpoint with Tenore, Basso and basso continuo per organo, followed by Quinto/Tenore, Canto and Alto. Grandi uses some fine dissonant in this motet.
The text “Et organum” is underlined in all parts with a special short motif, see bars 16 up to 21. Of course there are some monody phrases in it. Grandi uses a lot of accidentals and even chromatic in bars 36, 37 and 41. From bar 70 Grandi starts “sed etiam” with another motif in all parts, ending in the Basso with a great E. This motet consists out of 87 bars. This setting by Alessandro Grandi was first printed in Motteti a cinque voci, 1614 in Ferrara by Baldini and further published in Motetti a cinque voci Venetia, by A. Vincenti, 1620.
Author:Wim Goossens
Text:
R. Versa est in luctum cithara mea et organum meum in vocem flentium.
Clamo ad te et non exaudis me sto ante: et non respicis me in crudelem.
Mutates es mihi in curdelem et in duritia manus tuae adversaries mihi.
Scio quia morti trades me, sed etiam si me occideris sperabo in te.

Translation:
R. My harp is tuned for lamentation and my organ into the voice of those who weep.
I cry to thee, and Thou hearest me not: I stand up, and thou dost not regard me.
Thou art changed to be cruel toward me, and in the hardness of thy hand thou art against me.
I know that thou wilt deliver me to death, and indeed if I fall down, I shall believe in thou.
Contributor:Wim Goossens