I Tre Maestri – Monteverdi, Rovetta, Legrenzi: 80 years of excellence in San Marco

Featuring: soprano,tenor, violin, cornetto, 2 sackbuts, dulcian/ recorder, violone, theorbo, organ

Being a Maestro di Cappella in the 17th Century was a duty of prestige and high responsibility. It involved several skills: the Maestro had to be able to conduct the vocal and instrumental ensemble, but he also had to choose and to compose the repertoire which would have been performed by the ensemble.  The Cappella Marciana in San Marco, Venice, appears to have had an incredible florid activity especially during 17thcentury. Its prestige was surely due to a long line of excellent Maestri which worked for many years at the head of this great musical institution.  After a period of stasis that followed Giovanni Croce’s death, the famous Claudio Monteverdi was able to restore this musical institution, reorganizing the library and hiring new musicians. He remained in charge as a Maestro di Cappella for a record period of 31 years.  After Monteverdi’s death, the previously musician and vice-maestro Giovanni Rovetta took the position for the next 24 years . Rovetta was probably among his teacher’s favourites, as his quick rise in the Cappella Marciana seems to point out. Another proof of the powerful link between this two excellent composers can be found in Rovetta’s compositions: Monteverdi’s modern approach to the venetian school appears to be a great source of  inspiration for Rovetta , which combines it together with his own new ideas. After Rovetta’s death, we witness a quicker turn over among the Maestri.  In what concerns the production of sacred music, a personality of great value was undoubtedly Giovanni Legrenzi, Maestro during only 5 years but capable of bringing the musical institution of San Marco to its greatest expansion, reaching up to 70 elements: 36 singers and 34 instrumentalists. Legrenzi’s bond with San Marco was complicated: already in 1676 he postulate for the job as a Maestro but he wans’t choosen by the commission in charge. Instead of him, Natale Monferrato (indeed more related to Rovetta) won the audition. This failure did not discourage Legrenzi, who agreed to work as a vice-Maestro next to Monferrato for a long time, succeeding him finally in 1685 and remaining in charge until his death in 1690. With Legrenzi we are witnessing a further step in the evolution of 17th-century Venetian music. In his compositions we find important influences of the past but also innovative links with the full Italian baroque style.

Giovanni Rovetta (1596,1668) Canzon IV a 4                                       

Giovanni Legrenzi  (1626-1690) Salve Regina , Canzon La Cornara                                                                                                                   

Giovanni Rovetta Ave Regina coelorum, Canzon Seconda a 3, Beatus Vir, Cantate Domino                                  

Giovanni Rovetta Canzon III a 4,  Nulla scientia melior est illa

Giovanni Legrenzi Sonata « La Pezzoli »,  Regina coeli laetare                          

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) Confitebor                                          

Giovanni Legrenzi, Ave Regina coelorum

Photo @Susanna Drescher