Lagrime mie

A Lament

Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677)

Editor: Edited by Barbara Sachs

for soprano (c'-g'') and bc

Ref. no Str 2 (in 'cantatas')           sample page      cover page      To order:     

The Lamento Lagrime mie, a plaint and a reflection on the subject of tears, begins and ends with a heart-wrenching harmonic e-minor scale falling a 9th from e” to d#’, hovering on notes belonging to the dominant harmony, over a tonic pedal in the continuo. Trills on two of these long notes, displaced in anticipation of a possible accommodation of the harmony, increase the resulting dissonance and mimic the desire to sob of the lover who asks why his tears are not pouring forth!

This 8 bar Refrain cadences on the dominant, to be followed by another plaintive question. It returns in the middle of the piece (bars 64-71) where it ends on the tonic, and is called for again at the end, in resigned acceptance of the “truth” that destiny thirsts only for his tears. Strozzi’s setting of the text alternates arioso sections in duple and triple time, all defying description as “recitatives” or as full-fledged arias. After the opening Refrain the lover invokes his tears again, with more defined rhythms and zigzagging leaps of considerable melodic difficulty.