Spezza, Amor, l'arco

No 1 of 6 scherzi

Agostino Steffani (1654-1728)

Editor: Cedric Lee

for canto solo (soprano, d'-a''), oboe (piffero) bassoon (fagotto) and basso continuo

Ref. no Ste 1 (in 'cantatas')           sample page      cover page      To order:     

Spezza, Amor, l’arco, is the first in the set of 6 Scherzi. Its theme is the tortured sufferings of the lover who cannot bring himself to declare his love to his idol.

The structure of the piece resembles that of a cantata; arias for voice with obbligato instruments alternate with recitatives. However, in this work the arias have distinctive characteristics: the first has a da capo form, but its B section is in marked contrast rhythmically and in mood, to the first section, changing the C signature for 3/2. The second aria, Zephiretti placidetti, sets two strophes; the first with oboe, the second with bassoon as obbligato. Both parts have the curious time signature of C 3/2, and both contain a “cadenza” passage over a pedal bass. The third aria, Fortuna crudele, is in three sections in 3/2 time, each repeated. All three are distinguished by the challenging bassoon accompaniment in quaver passages.