Harmonia Early Music

Echo!

On this episode of Harmonia, we’re listening for echoes! Plus, we’ll explore some curious inventions from composer Biagio Marini in our featured recording.

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echo

Photo: DcoetzeeBot (wiki commons)

A painting of the nymph Echo by Alexandre Cabanel, 1874.

Spelunkers and churchgoers and small children in bathrooms have always loved to hear their own voices bouncing back to them, and composers haven’t been immune to the lure of echoing air. We’ll hear musical echoes, short and long, from across Europe.

Here’s music from Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas. In this opera, Dido, Queen of Carthage, dies of thwarted love. And this being opera, she dies singing: Purcell sets her death scene as a vivid, anguished lament. We hear an echo of the Queen’s pain in the opera’s final chorus, With Drooping Wings.

Tr. 12: Dido and Aeneas: Act II: In our deep vaulted cell - Echo Dance of Furies (2'00) / Show's 1st six minutes: Tr. 28: Act III: With drooping wings ye Cupids Come (4:32)
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra / The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge — Purcell: Dido and Aeneas (Harmonia Mundi, 1994)
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In ancient mythology, Echo was a captivating nymph who wandered the mountains of Greece in love with the sound of her own voice. She was so articulate that she distracted Zeus’s wife, Hera, by telling long, drawn-out tales while the god cavorted with Echo’s fellow nymphs.

It was a dangerous game: when Hera discovered the ploy, she took Echo’s voice from her, dooming the storyteller to a life repeating back the words of others.

That act of sonic reflection is what we’re up to this hour on Harmonia. We’ll hear musical echoes from a range of times and places, savoring sounds that don’t just come around once.

Up first, an echo motet. Writing echoes into vocal music became popular in Italy in the late 1500s and early 1600s, and Giovanni Paolo Cima, a musical bigwig in Milan, tried his hand.  We’ll hear Cima’s echo motet, Surge, Propera, Amica Mea in a version recorded by Ensemble la Fenice. Listen for Jean Tubery’s cornetto echoing, wordlessly, the phrases of countertenor Phillipe Jarousky.

Lodovico Viadana, an Italian contemporary of Cima’s, wrote at least four different echo motets in the first ten years of the 1600s. We’ll hear a kind of wordless echo—the imitation between instruments—in Viadano’s Canzon per cornetto & violino in Rispota, again performed by Ensemble La Fenice.

Giovanni Paolo Cima:Tr. 8: Surge, Propera, Amica Mea (Motet In Echo) (3'40'') / Lodovico Viadano: Tr. 7: Canzon Per Cornetto & Violino In Risposta (3'27'')
Ensemble La Fenice/Philippe Jaroussky — Un Concert Pour Mazarin (Virgin Classics, 2008)
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A fascination with echoes wasn’t restricted to Italy. The genial Englishman Henry Purcell used echoes to tell stories. In his opera Dido and Aeneas a group of evil sorceresses plots to take down a happy royal couple. To do so, they head to a cave to cast a spell, listening as the words of their evil song bounce back:

In our deep vaulted cell/the charm we’ll prepare/too dreadful a practice/for this open air.

Let’s listen to the evildoers of the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, accompanied by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. We’ll follow that with another example of Purcell playing with echoes in instrumental music from The Fairy Queen directed by Jordi Savall.

Tr. 12: Dido and Aeneas: Act II: In our deep vaulted cell - Echo Dance of Furies (2'00) / Show's 1st six minutes: Tr. 28: Act III: With drooping wings ye Cupids Come (4:32)
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra / The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge — Purcell: Dido and Aeneas (Harmonia Mundi, 1994)
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Tr. 16 The Fairy Queen - Act II - Echo (2'26'')
Jordi Savall — Purcell: The Fairy Queen/The Prophetess (Alia Vox, 2009)
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Have you ever gone into a cave or a canyon or a very large room and shouted, just to hear your own voice return to you?  Some places inspire echoes.

One of those is St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, or San Marco. San Marco is domed in the style of the east and filled with elaborate mosaics. For many centuries it has been known as the “Chiesa d’oro,” or church of gold.

It is also very, very large, as Giovanni Gabrieli discovered when he became principal organist at San Marco in 1585. Gabrieli and his uncle, Andrea, experienced such a sound delay when their choirs faced one another across the space that they often opted to have only one choir sing at a time. This evolved into an echo effect: opposing choirs tossing melodies from one side of the church to the other.

Gabrieli wasn’t shy about taking advantage of his cavernous space. Let’s hear a piece from Gabrieli’s Sacrae Symphoniae of 1597.

Tr. 10. Sacrae Symphoniae (1597): Canzon in echo duodecimi toni a 10 accomodata per concertar con l'organo (4'44'')
Concerto Palatino/Bruce Dickey/Charles Toft — Gabrieli: Sonate e Canzoni (Harmonia Mundi, 2007)
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The hills are alive this hour on Harmonia, as we explore musical rebounds –the use of the echo effect in music from across the European continent. We’ve heard echoes from Italy and England…what about other regions?

Let’s travel east to listen to Sonata ‘Cucu,” a bird-fancier’s violin sonata by Austrian composer Johann Heinrich Schmelzer. Even if you’ve never seen a cuckoo bird, you’ve likely heard someone imitate its two-note call. Or maybe you’ve heard a cuckoo clock, the kind that echoes back a “cuckoo” for every hour of the day.

There’s a cuckoo caught in Schmelzer’s sonata; see if you can hear it.

Tr. 4 Sonata, 'Cucù' ('Cuckoo') (5'59)
Romanesca (Andrew Manze) — Schmelzer: Violin Sonatas (Harmonia Mundi, 1996)
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Next we’ll hear another Germanic echo, this one by the organist and composer Hans Leo Hassler. His use of the echo effect may not have been a fluke: Hassler spent time studying with echo masters Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli in that Venetian echo chamber, the Basilica San Marco. Let’s hear Ton Koopman at the organ in Hassler’s Echo Fantasie.

Hans Leo Hassler: D. 1 Tr. 3: Echo Fantasie (3'39)
Ton Koopman — Mesiterwerke der Orgel (Capriccio, 2005)
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“First Bouquet”—what  a lovely title for a collection of music.  The title has a French kind of floweriness, and indeed, Georg Muffat, who published both first and second bouquets of string music, was trained in Paris. But he didn’t stay there. Instead, Muffat traveled the continent, spreading the French style wherever he went—and picking up a few continental tricks along the way. We’ll hear two pieces by Muffat from Florilegium primum, or First Bouquet: First, an overture, and following that, a brief “echo.”

Florilegium primum: Fasciculus VI, "Blanditiae" D2 Tr 34: I. Ouverture: Presto (3'1 0'') / D2 Tr 40: VII. Echo (1'16'')
Ars Antiqua Austria/Gunnar Letzbor — Muffat: Armonico Tributo - Florilegium Primum (Pan Classics, 2001)
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Let’s hear one final echo, this time from a churchyard in the Low Countries. Jacob van Eyck, a blind organist and carillonneur, used to pick up extra money playing tunes on his recorder on the church grounds over the lunch hour. We’ll hear Swedish recorder player Dan Laurin playing van Eyck’s Fantasia & Echo, from Der Fluyten Lust-hof.

Tr 5: Der Fluyten Lust-hof, Book 1 : Book I: XV. Fantasia & Echo (1'55'')
Dan Laurin — Eyck: Evergreens from the pleasure garden (BIS, 2006)
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Featured recording: Biagio Marini’s inventive techniques

We’ll continue our theme of sound effects on our featured release. The ensemble Galatea and violinist Monica Huggett perform a diversity of curious inventions from Biagio Marini’s opus 8 on a 2013 release on the Stradivarius label.

Marini’s first known musical appointment began in 1615 at St. Mark’s Basilica. There, Marini worked as a violinist under Claudio Monteverdi, likely gaining some of his inspiration for later harmonic innovation and treatment of the basso continuo.

Marini’s collection, published in 1629, explored all of the instrumental forms popular at that time. Marini highlighted solo sonatas such as the Capriccio in modo di un lira with scordatura and triple stops at a time when both techniques were still rare.

Tr. 11 - XI. Sonata undecima a 2 (5'08") / Tr. 4 - IV. Cappricio in modo di lira (3'17")
Galatea with Monica Huggett — Biagio Marini: Curiose invenzioni dell'opera ottava (Stradivarius, 2013)
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Theme and Break music

:30 Biagio Marini: Curiose invenzioni dell’opera ottava, Galatea with Monica Huggett, Tr. 19 – Curiose Invenzioni dall’opera ottava_ XIX. Sonata in ecco

:60 Biagio Marini: Curiose invenzioni dell’opera ottava, Galatea with Monica Huggett, Tr. 13 – XIII. Sonata Variata

:30 Biagio Marini: Curiose invenzioni dell’opera ottava, Galatea with Monica Huggett, Tr. 10 – Curiose Invenzioni dall’opera ottava_ X. Ritornello terzo

Theme: Danse Royale, Ensemble Alcatraz, Elektra Nonesuch 79240-2 1992, B000005J0B, T.12: La Prime Estampie Royal

Extra segment

Claudio Monteverdi was another denizen of San Marco. The Italian composer took over the management of the music program in 1613. Only a few years earlier, he had explored echoes in the Vespro della Beata Vergine, or Monteverdi Vespers.

This substantial work’s most resounding echoes can be heard in Audi Coelum, a duet for two male voices in which one man, often standing at a distance from the action, acts as an echo for the other. We’ll hear a recording by the group Apollo’s Fire, conducted by Jeanette Sorrell.

[See the full playlist by clicking on the "Music on this episode" tab just above the image at the top of this web post.]

The writers for this episode of Harmonia are Anne Timberlake and Laura Osterlund.

 

Tr. 12: Dido and Aeneas: Act II: In our deep vaulted cell - Echo Dance of Furies (2'00) / Show's 1st six minutes: Tr. 28: Act III: With drooping wings ye Cupids Come (4:32)
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra / The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge — Purcell: Dido and Aeneas (Harmonia Mundi, 1994)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Giovanni Paolo Cima:Tr. 8: Surge, Propera, Amica Mea (Motet In Echo) (3'40'') / Lodovico Viadano: Tr. 7: Canzon Per Cornetto & Violino In Risposta (3'27'')
Ensemble La Fenice/Philippe Jaroussky — Un Concert Pour Mazarin (Virgin Classics, 2008)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 16 The Fairy Queen - Act II - Echo (2'26'')
Jordi Savall — Purcell: The Fairy Queen/The Prophetess (Alia Vox, 2009)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 10. Sacrae Symphoniae (1597): Canzon in echo duodecimi toni a 10 accomodata per concertar con l'organo (4'44'')
Concerto Palatino/Bruce Dickey/Charles Toft — Gabrieli: Sonate e Canzoni (Harmonia Mundi, 2007)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 4 Sonata, 'Cucù' ('Cuckoo') (5'59)
Romanesca (Andrew Manze) — Schmelzer: Violin Sonatas (Harmonia Mundi, 1996)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Hans Leo Hassler: D. 1 Tr. 3: Echo Fantasie (3'39)
Ton Koopman — Mesiterwerke der Orgel (Capriccio, 2005)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Florilegium primum: Fasciculus VI, "Blanditiae" D2 Tr 34: I. Ouverture: Presto (3'1 0'') / D2 Tr 40: VII. Echo (1'16'')
Ars Antiqua Austria/Gunnar Letzbor — Muffat: Armonico Tributo - Florilegium Primum (Pan Classics, 2001)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr 5: Der Fluyten Lust-hof, Book 1 : Book I: XV. Fantasia & Echo (1'55'')
Dan Laurin — Eyck: Evergreens from the pleasure garden (BIS, 2006)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Tr. 11 - XI. Sonata undecima a 2 (5'08") / Tr. 4 - IV. Cappricio in modo di lira (3'17")
Galatea with Monica Huggett — Biagio Marini: Curiose invenzioni dell'opera ottava (Stradivarius, 2013)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Claudio Monteverdi: D 2, Tr 1: Vespers of the Blessed Virgin: Motet: Audi Coelum (4’42)
Apollo's Fire — Monteverdi: Vespers of the Blessed Virgin and Magnificat (Avie, 2010)
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Anne Timberlake

Anne Timberlake holds degrees in recorder performance from Oberlin Conservatory and Indiana University. She has received awards from the American Recorder Society and the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, and, in 2008, was awarded a Fulbright Grant. With Musik Ekklesia, Anne has recorded for the Sono Luminus label, and she’s a founding member of the ensemble Wayward Sisters, specializing in music of the early baroque. Anne enjoys teaching as well as performing. In addition to music, she holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and covers the classical music beat for the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia).

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