Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643): Or che ‘l ciel e la terra e ‘l vento tace

Monteverdi 150x150 Monteverdi’s six-part SATTTB and SSATTB  1 setting of Petrarch’s sonnet Or che ’l ciel e la terra e ’l vento tace (Now that sky and earth and wind are stilled) is in the genere concitato or "agitated style" developed by Monteverdi himself and at least in part must have been written to show off to great effect how to make use of concitato effects such as rapid repeated notes and extended trills.  He starts with of wondrous portrayal of Night’s stillness which he then breaks with the outcry of a lover tormented by the thought of his love from whom he is apart. When we get to the seventh line of the sonnet (guerra è il mio stato) Monteverdi treats us to two two passages of concitato writing replete with rapid semiquavers in the strings and the use motifs that develop and maintain pacing in the voices. Like all of his ‘warlike’ madrigals the topic is love and the pain of the emotional conflicts caused by love. Monteverdi’s portrayal of this excels itself at the sonnet’s concluding line – tanto dalla salute mia son lunge, when the high voices and the violins starting low and the male voices starting gradually move across one another journeying out to the extremes of their registers as they do so. It’s very difficult to get right but when it’s done as well as it’s done by Arcangelo below the effect is quite remarkable. Enjoy :-).


Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643): Or che ‘l ciel e la terra e ‘l vento tace SV147

Italiano English
1. Or che ’l ciel e la terra e ’l vento tace,Now that sky and earth and wind are stilled,
2. e le fere e gli augelli il sonno affrena,and animals and birds are lulled in sleep,
3. notte il carro stellato in giro mena,while night’s starry chariot wheels around
4. e nel suo letto il mar senz’onda giace;and in its bed the ocean waveless lies;
5. veglio, penso, ardo, piango; e chi mi sface,wakeful, I think, burn, weep, and my tormentor
6. sempre m’è innanzi per mia dolce pena:see ever before me, source of such sweet pain:
7. guerra è il mio stato, d’ira e di duol piena,my soul is embattled, filled with grief and anger,
8. e sol di lei pensando ho qualche pace.and only thoughts of her bring some relief.
9. Così sol d’una chiara fonte vivaThus from a single clear and vital source
10. move il dolce e l’amaro ond’io mi pasco:flow both the honey and the gall that feed me;
11. una man sola mi risana, e punge.a single hand both binds my wounds and stabs me.
12. E perché il mio martir non giunga a riva,And because my anguish has no end,
13. mille volte il dì moro e mille nasco;I die and am born a thousand times a day:
14. tanto dalla salute mia son lunge.

Petrarch (1304-1374)

14. so far from my usual well-being am I.

English translation: Avril Bardoni © 2014


Arcangelo conducted by Jonathan Cohen.

Sopranos: Katherine Watson, Anna Dennis;
Countertenor: Tim Mead;
Tenors: Samuel Boden, Thomas Walker;
Bass: Callum Thorpe;

Recorder Rebecca Miles, Rebecca Prosser;
Violin: Simon Jones, Bojan Cvicvic´;
Viola: Rebecca Jones;
Cello: Joseph Crouch


Viola da gamba: Jonathan Manson;
Lute: Thomas Dunford;
Lirone: Erin Headley;
Harp: Frances Kelly;
Violone: Tim Amherst;
Keyboard: Jonathan Cohen


  1. Lines 1-8 are SATTTB,  lines 9-14 are SSATTB, the accompaniment is two violins and continuo  – mfi.

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