Viola da Gamba: Consorts, a5 – Thomas Lupo, Ardo si

April 24, 2009

Thomas Lupo, Two madigral-fantasies (no.19): “Ardo, si” and “Ardi et gela”. Ed David Pinto for five part choir or five instruments with editorial keyboard part (organ). Golden Phoenix Publications.

Thomas Lupo: Consort music. The English Fantasy. Gaudeamus CD GAU 149. 1996, ASV Ltd.


This is up there with Christopher Tye’s Crye for exuberance and driving rythms and a world apart from run-of-the-mill fantasy consort music. 

To quote Peter Holman’s liner notes for the CD:

“…Ardo, si is a parody of Vecchi’s Ardo si, ma non t’amo, also from the Madrigali a sei voci…libro primo (Venice 1583). Lupo may originally have written his versions as proper madrigals, with words, for the parts keep within voice ranges, though they only exist in wordless versions today, apparently intended for viols.” 

Confident off-beats for the trebles will get the thing off to a good start if alto and tenor synchronise with all around them and with each other. The music only makes sense when played at a fair clip; once everyone has found their nerve, it will shimmer and sparkle. The contempt and spite of the lyrics have to be supported with stinging attack in the viols, so there’s no room for wishy-washy starts and finishes in notes. This is especially the case in the opening line of the bass which has to direct quite forcefully the required rythmic pulse. Even the short flowing passages are edgy, so your ordinary consort player will feel deprived.

The English Fantasy play this at a good romp (sans organ) – duration is around 2mins for each of the two parts. Their tempo and golden sound is what to aim for. Of course all the repeated notes have to sound unique and different from each other.

 It’s tough, it’s exhausting, it’s brilliant!


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