Listening Log- [Pt. I- Proj.1]- Andrea Gabrieli – ‘Caro dolce ben mio, perche fuggire’ in ‘Musica di XIII autori illustri à 5 voci. No. 28’ 1576. Cat No. IAG 17

Listening Log- Andrea Gabrieli (c.1532-1585) – ‘Caro dolce ben mio, perche fuggire’ in ‘Musica di XIII autori illustri à 5 voci. No. 28’ 1576 . Cat No. IAG 17

Andrea Gabrieli (c.1532-1585) was a prominent composer and organist of the High- Renaissance Era who was most likely born in Venice. Biographical information on Gabrieli is scarce and very vague. In 1562 he encountered and befriended Orlande de Lassus who was to become a great influence and catalyst for Gabrieli’s musical style and innovations. He wrote predominantly for St Mark’s in Venice where he was the organist and teacher from 1566. Here he greatly developed the polychoral style, having different choirs perform in different sections of St Marks. Much of his music was published posthumously by his famous nephew, the composer Giovanni Gabrieli.

Caro dolce ben mio, perche fuggire‘ is an A cappella Venetian style madrigal for five voices, SSATB, first published in 1576 in ‘Musica di XIII autori illustri à 5 voci. No. 28.’ It is in keeping with typical ‘classical’ Italian madrigal compositions and sticks to the traditional through-composed form.

The madrigal is written in Common time in the A Aeolian Mode. It is 46 bars long and comes in at around 3 min 15 sec. As shown in the score below the piece starts off homophonically (red rectangle) and then the voices splinter off into bright polyphonic imitative counterpoint (blue rectangle). These two textures alternate and contrast each-other throughout the piece. Occasionally some of the voices stay together whilst a couple of voices take on a polyphonic imitative texture. In places several voices drop out completely, to later re-join. These drastic shifts in texture give an impression of dramatic dynamic changes, although the actual dynamics and the tempo remains pretty uniform throughout. Andrea Gabrieli favoured this type of juxtaposition and it very much became his style. He would develop this idea of contrasting sections much further with his antiphonal choral work- spatially placing several choirs at different parts of St Marks.

‘Caro dolce ben mio, perche fuggire’ became Gabrieli’s most popular and widely performed Madrigal, with versions set to different texts and re-‘orchestrated’ for lute and later other instruments.

My own feelings for the piece are relatively muted. I find it inoffensive but also quite bland. Try as I might, I can’t find anything to really really love about it and sink my teeth into.

Fig. 1. Example (2019)

The original Italian text ( by Anonymous) reads;

‘Caro dolce ben mio, perchè fuggire,
Chi v’ama, et per amar languisce e more?
Se vi piac’ il mio pianto e’l mio martire,
Eccovi il petto, e ne cavate il core,
Chè quand’ io deggia per dolor morire,
E far del viver mio più brevi l’hore,
L’alma lieta da me farà partita
Se di man vostra lasciarò la vita.’


Figure 1. Sunny, L. (2019) Example [Illustration] In: possession of: The author: London


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