Musical Delicacies

— Early Music Concert Series —

Lasso: Lagrime di San Pietro

Concert of Sacred Music from around 1600, the early post-Tridentine period.

Sunday 18 June 2017 19:30 — Sacred Heart Church, náměstí Republiky, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic.


Andrea Gabrieli (cca. 1532 – 1585) Canzona Ariosa   (Il terzo libro de Ricercari, Venezia 1596)
Orlando di Lasso (1532 – 1594)
     Text: Luigi Tansillo (1510 – 1568)
Il magnanimo Pietro, che giurato havea   (RISM 1595a)
Ma gli archi che net petto gli aventaro
Tre volte haveva a l’importuna e audace
Qual’ a l’incontro di quelli occhi santi
Giovane donna il suo bel viso in specchio
Così tal hor benchè profane cose
Ogni occhio del signor lingua veloce
Nessun fedel trovai, nessun cortese
Chi ad una ad una raccontar potesse
Come falda di neve, che agghi acciata
E non fu il pianto suo rivo o corrente
Quel volto, ch’era poco inanzi stato
Costanzo Antegnati (1569 – 1622) Ricercar del terzo tuono   (L’Arte organica, Brescia 1608)
Martin Jakubíček (*1965) Preludio sopra Veduto il miser   (improvisation)
Orlando di Lasso (1532 – 1594)
     Text: Luigi Tansillo (1510 – 1568)
Veduto il miser, quando differente   (RISM 1595a)
E vago d’incontrar, chi giusta pena
Vattene, vita, va! dicea piangendo
O vita, troppo rea, troppo fallace
Ah quanti già felici in giovinezza
Non trovava mia fe si duro in troppo
Queste opre e più, ch’ el mondo et io sapeva
Negando il mio signor negai qu’el ch’era
Orlando di Lasso (1532 – 1594) Vide homo, quæ pro te patior

►►►  Song texts.

About the programme

Title page: Lagrime di S. Pietro (München, Alban Berg, 1595) — Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München. Orlando di Lasso, 1594.

In the sixteenth century, a fifty year old man was already considered an old man. Therefore one cannot wonder, writes Michaela Vostřelová in Lasso’s biography, that the 52-year old Lasso handed parts of his duties to his son Ferdinand and was slowly preparing for his death. In order to relieve his soul in the Last Judgment, he made a pilgrimage in 1585 from Munich, where he served as chapelmaster in the Duke’s court, to the Marian pilgrimage site Loreto in Italy.

The end of the composer’s life was marked by disease, but Lasso nevertheless continued composing. His last work, the cycle of the madrigals Lagrime di San Pietro (the tears of Saint Peter), was completed shortly before his death. This extensive composition with its text about the Apostle Peter’s sorrow and remorse after having forsaken Christ (Matthew 26:69–75) is often referred to as Lasso’s musical testament. The cycle was dedicated to Pope Clement VIII. and was published within one year after the composer’s death. Orlando di Lasso died in Munich on 14 June 1594 at the age of 62 years.

The unbelievable inventory of Lasso’s compositions counts around two thousand items, which include perhaps all the musical genres of the time, including madrigals. The madrigal proved to be a free ground for the composer’s experiments mainly with harmony (for example, with chromatics). After the Tridentine Council (1545–1563), the composition of sacred music was subjected to requirements to guide the composer’s creative abilities in the desired direction. The 16th century was a century of terrible ecclesiastical crisis and the post-Tridentine revival gave birth to a new musical genre, the spiritual madrigal. It happened that the means typical of the madrigal secular even began to be used also for setting music to spiritual poetry (of course written in Italian). This new musical genre was, however, not intended for liturgical purposes, but rather applied in the environment of private homes. It reflected the atmosphere of the time when the Catholic Church, as a church suffering and battling the mortal danger of delusions and Islam, conceived all available means and tried to strengthen the faith of its believers.

Denial of Peter — Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652) — Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica di Palazzo Corsini (Roma), inv. 438. Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652): Denial of Peter (excerpt).

Lasso’s last work, the cycle of spiritual madrigals Lagrime di San Pietro, serves as an illustrative example of approaching the mentality of the faithful at the time of the High Renaissance. The Italian poet Luigi Tansillo (1510–1568), whose text Lasso set to music, had in his youth caused a scandal at that time by releasing some very provocative erotic poems. At a more advanced age, in order to atone the sins of his youth, he wrote an extensive poem of twenty-four verses in which he describes the pain and regret of the Apostle Peter after denying Christ. Tansillo’s poem gained great popularity and was printed seven times between 1560 and 1589. Shortly before his death, Lasso took the first twenty Italian verses, in which he summed up his lifelong development as a composer, ending them with a Latin-style motet, dedicating his work to Peter's Deputy, and drew his last breath three weeks later. In the work, he recaptures the chromaticity he demonstrated so masterfully in his earlier work Prophetiae Sibyllarum, as well as his graceful Palestinian style of later years. The music corresponds completely with the text, and he masterfully sets the rests where the speaker naturally would pause to breathe. The narrative of the text is highlighted with musical figures. This is most evident for the words that express painful pain or sadness, which are usually set to music in chromatic progressions that contains the tones of the original mode.

The first thirteen madrigals tell Peter’s story and colorfully depict what torture he experienced when he realized his failure. In the following sections, he contemplates what he did, revolves his life, and concludes that it does not make sense to live any more. In his denial of Christ, he sees his betrayal and the loss of eternal life. The final moteto, where Christ personally speaks to man as such, sets Peter’s failure into the general human plane and is a challenge for sinners who, by their evil deeds, increase Christ’s suffering on the cross.

Lagrime di San Pietro Tears of Saint Peter is a composition for seven voices, and numerological symbolism plays a significant role in it. The seven voices represent the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary, and the division into seven parts of the three compositions represents the Holy Trinity seven times. Moreover, Lasso uses symbolically only seven of the church modes, omitting completely the eighth mode (Hypomixolydian). The individual madrigals can be grouped in ascending order as follows: Madrigals 1–4 in the 1st mode, madrigals 5–8 in the 2nd mode, madrigaly 9–12 in the 3rd and 4th modes, madrigals 13–15 in 5th mode, madrigals 16–18 in the 6th mode and madrigals 19–20 in the 7th mode. The final motet is in tonus peregrinus, completely outside the usual Renaissance scheme of eight Gregorian modes. David Crook wrote in his book Orlando di Lasso’s Imitation Magnificats (1994) that the absence of the 8th mode and hence the incompleteness of the eight-dimensional system in the first twenty madrigals reflects Peter’s words and symbolize the imperfection of the world, while accepting and adding one mode elsewhere for Christ’s words in Latin serves as the symbol of another world that comes.

The choice of the aging Lasso is quite understandable. As a faithful, who is about to leave the earthly world, he looks back and wants to atone his sins. Lasso is doing so in a way worthy of God a blessed musician and leaves future generations not only a brilliantly composed musical work but also an inspiration to reflect on the Truth and the purpose of human endeavour.

Patrik Matyášek & Michaela Vostřelová


  • Helena Mojdlová — soprano 1
  • Martina Lavičková — soprano 1
  • Magdalena Turchichová Šmídová ¹ — soprano 1
  • Radka Kreslíková — soprano 2
  • Markéta Bébarová ¹ — soprano 2
  • Marie Rosová ¹ — soprano 2
  • Marie Matyášková — alto 1
  • Zuzana Poláčková ¹ — alto 1
  • Jakub Herzán ¹ — alto 2
  • Ondřej Ptáček — tenor 1
  • Jan Mareček — tenor 1
  • Patrik Matyášek — tenor 2, artistic leader
  • Václav Kovář ¹ — bass
  • Radek Vašina ² — cornett
  • Lumír Škvařil ² — cornett
  • Kateřina Stávková ² — viola da gamba
  • Anna Vargová ² — viola da gamba
  • Rút Rausová ² — viola da gamba
  • Pavel Novotný ² — trombone
  • Tomáš Lajtkep ² — trombone
  • Martin Jakubíček ¹ — positive organ

¹  as guest
²  Castello in Aria — instrumental ensemble

Hussowitzer Gesang- und Verschönerungs­verein

The Hussowitzer Gesang- und Verschönerungs­verein is a vocal ensemble that focuses mainly on the music of the 16th and 17th centuries. Its name derives from a part of the city of Brno, the once independent town Husovice that in 1920 was incorporated into the so-called Greater Brno. The beginnings of the Verein, probably founded in 1863, is shrouded in the fog of the history of the 19th century. What is clear is that the Hussowitzer Gesang- und Verschönerungs­verein found a new membership in its current form under the leadership of Patrik Matyášek in 2014.

Castello in Aria

Castello in Aria is an association of musicians who are engaged in baroque music performed on copies of period instruments. The instrumentalists are playing on cornetto, baroque violin, sackbut, viola da gamba, harpsichord and other instruments. The name of our group is a tribute to the baroque composer Dario Castello (c. 1590 – c. 1658), whose music we like to play. The idiom Castello in Aria means in Italian a castle in the air, similar to what our music is. At the time, what sounds, is very real, and when finished, it melts away and only the memory remains.

Martin Jakubíček

Martin Jakubíček studied harpsichord and composition at the Conservatoire and at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno. Besides solo concerts (harpsichord, organ, fortepiano), Martin Jakubíček acts as artistic director of renowned chamber ensembles; he is founding member of ensembles dealing with period interpretations of Renaissance and Baroque music. He performs with Czech and foreign chamber orchestras, and is a popular accompanist of choirs (Ars Brunensis, Brno Academic Choir, …) and soloists (Kožená, Stivín, Hudeček, …). He appears regularly on Czech radio and television, as well as in other European countries. He participated as performer in dozens of CD recordings, and acts as organist in Brno churches. Not less important are his composing and arranging activities; they cover the areas of ​​traditional (Broln, Hradišťan, …), folk (Tabard, Cimbal classic, …) and classical music (Canticum novum, Fagotti Brunenses, …).

Thank you

The concert enjoys the auspices of the Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic Mgr. Daniel Herman, the Governor of the South Moravian Region JUDr. Bohumil Šimek and the Mayor of the Statutory City Brno Ing. Petr Vokřál.

It takes place with financial support from the Statutory City of Brno.

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