Benedetto Marcello (1686–1739): Dulcis Jesu Mater cara

Bendetto Marcello’s reputation has been eclipsed by that of Vivaldi and the other professional musicians of his era his music is now largely forgotten. Its obscurity is our loss for Marcello’s music was greatly admired and rightly so by Bach, Telemann, Locatelli, Avison and Goethe, and in later times Cherubini, Rossini and Verdi. The ‘Nobile Veneto’ (Venetian Aristocrat) as he was referred to was admired for his music’s skilfully written counterpoint, the way in which closely followed the texts it set, and last but by no means least its clear and pleasing melodies. This very talented amateur was spoken of in the same breath as Pergolesi and Palestrina which is when, you think of it, no mean feat.

imageBenedetto Marcello was born into a Venetian patrician family and rose through that city’s ruling class to hold a variety of senior administrative and judicial appointments such as membership of the Council of Forty, Provveditore of Pola, and Camerlengo at Brescia, in the Venetian Republic’s service. It was unthinkable that a man of his class be a professional composer so Marcello had to content himself with the status of dilettante composer. His music was heard in the salons of the rich and aristocratic but not performed in public. A similar fate befell his religious music, at least in Venice – his psalm settings for example were never sung in St. Marks. Outside of Venice it was a different matter his cantatas and oratorios were widely performed and his sacred music was translated into French, German, Swedish, English, and Russian and widely performed.

Dulcis Jesu Mater cara (Dear Mother of sweet Jesus) which you can hear below is from his Requiem in G minor "Requiem ‘in the Venetian Manner" which probably dates from between 1728 and 1733. It’s a lovely piece of music that was meant to be sung in place of the Agnus Dei. Structurally it’s in the form of a musical dialogue between the soloists with accompaniment and is characterised by some lovely melodies that are passed back and forth between the soloists and recapitulated in the accompaniment. Enjoy :-)



Benedetto Marcello (1686–1739): Dulcis Jesu Mater cara

Dulcis Jesu Mater cara,
summi Patris cara Filia,
cordis nostri dulce amara,
tende in nos serena cilia.

Dear Mother of sweet Jesus,
dear Daughter of the greatest Father,
sweeten the bitterness of our hearts
and turn your serene gaze on us.

In stellarum Regina, et angelorum Diva,
Respice super nos quae sola nostros dolores
tu vales consolari, tu potens serenare.
Eia Virgo Beata, inter mundi procellas
ne derelinquas nos ad te clamantes
ex tot corde, ex toto corde orantes

Queen of Heaven and Divine of Angels
look down on us, as you alone are able
to console our grief, as you alone can bring us calm.
So, Blessed Virgin, amid the storms of this world,
do not abandon us when we cry to Thee
and when we pray with all our heart

In isto mundo labili,
in mari tam instabili,
sis stella, dux, et via,
sis stella, dux, et via.

In this transient world,
in this ever changing sea,
may you be our star, our guide, our way,
may you be our star, our guide, our way.

Dum crescunt nostri gemitus,
dum fremunt armum strepitus,
da pacem o Maria,
da pacem o Maria.

Alleluia, alleluia.

When our lamentation grows,
when the sound of weapons rages,
grant us peace, O Maria,
grant us peace, O Maria.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Performers: Soloists of Athestis Chorus, Academia de li Musici conducted by Filippo Maria Bressan

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