Sunday, 29 June 2014

Piece and composer of the day: Tarquinio Merula and his Capriccio Cromatico

After fighting my way through a heavy exam season, I think that I am ready to initiate normal life again. Therefore, to start the summer of with a bang, I'd like to show you all this piece which I've just discovered for myself.

You see, I have just started learning a new "set" of repertoire on the piano, and along with Mozart's 20th concerto, I thought that I'd better add some baroque into my life, as I haven't played any music from this era for a long time.
I chose Bach's "Chromatische Fantasie" as my baroque piece for this season and, whilst doing some background research, I found myself listening to the strangest piece of early baroque music. 

Tarquinio Merula was born in Busseto in 1595- or 94, and was trained in Cremona. A fine violinist, organist and sacred composer, he achieved fame in his life along with several important positions such as maestro di cappella at Cremona cathedral. However, it seems that he was quite a Casanova, having been charged with indecency amongst his pupils. 

Tarquinio Merula

In fact, this general sauciness about him was present in his musical ouvre, composing very rousing works for the time, such as an opera (baroque opera is quite, well, erm... see for yourself), madrigals and canzonettas (both very romantic), which were all the rage amongst the Italian upper classes. One need not look any further than this chromatic piece to realise that Merula was one of those musical bon viveurs that revelled in the fashionable and modern trends of his day, rather like Monteverdi. Also, he helped pioneer many musical forms, such as the aria and trio sonata.

I do hope you enjoy this chromatic little jewel by Merula. I recommend you listen to this great recording, with original temperament (because I'm that historically informed). Let me tell you though, that equally tempered music will sound about ten times better after listening to this recording.