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“Just as a poet might well create a masterpiece by writing a little ode of just a few lines, so too might a musician create a masterpiece by writing a composition of just two or three pages for voice and pianoforte.”

With these words Ildebrando Pizzetti (Intermezzi critici, 1914) pays homage to the creation of the lirica d’arte, or Italian art song, a new genre wholeheartedly promoted by him but one that has links with a long-established and typically Italian tradition.

Consonarte, a new publishing enterprise, seeks to renew appreciation for the vocal chamber repertoire: a vast – often disregarded, even forgotten – musical patrimony that constitutes a splendid legacy of Italian musical history, and one not to be overlooked. Entire cycles of Arias, Romanze, Melodies, Nocturnes, Ballads, Elegies, Madrigals, Short Poems for voice and pianoforte, as well as Cantatas (with pianoforte or small groups of instruments) are almost completely unknown to today’s performers. Undoubtedly the difficulty of obtaining scores has been a disadvantage, and, even more so, a kind of widespread unawareness of the very existence of an Italian vocal chamber music heritage – excepting those works in which the great composers famously proved themselves. These are the considerations that have prompted Anna Bonitatibus, initiator and overseer of this publishing project, with the support of a group of expert musicologists, musicians and researchers, to undertake the long and patient work of identifying and reorganizing the huge abundance of surviving musical materials, in the hope that this form of expression, in its specifically Italian identity, might once more occupy a favoured position within today’s performance activities, whether of a concert nature, or in a private or didactic context. In fulfilment of this objective, the common factor that applies to every volume is fidelity to the original sources, subjected to careful critical examination, supported by an apparatus rich in historical and stylistic information.

These publications, in their documentation of such a wealth of musical production and of its internal developments, cover an extraordinarily extensive time span: from when the eighteenth-century arietta, with basso continuo support, naturally gave way to the accompanied melody, followed by the transformations brought about by the contribution of piano-playing and poetry, from “foglio d’album” (album leaf) to considered piece, and on to the new forms the genre takes in the contemporary period. Consonarte launches its publications with composers such as Vincenzo Gabussi, Luigi Gordigiani, Giovan Battista Perucchini from the first half of the 19th century, Giuseppe Martucci - representing the last decades of the 19th century – followed by Mario Pilati, with the first ever publication of Two madrigals by Guarini, from 1932.

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Among its forthcoming ventures, Consonarte also plans to publish collections of songs taken from the less explored parts of the world of Italian melodrama, with selected pages for different vocal registers. The project Semiramide,  la Signora regale  (a CD album, and an International Opera Award winner of 2015, produced by Consonarte and issued by Sony, revolving around the figure of the first queen of the Orient, who lends her name to the disc, and who is celebrated in the music of dozens of composers) has inspired the publication of the volume La musica di Semiramide: as well as making available for the first time in living memory the transcriptions of the arias recorded on the disc, arranged for voice and pianoforte (and for which the respective orchestral scores and short scores, in a revised and critical edition, may indeed be hired) there are also included a new reconstruction of the first version of «Bel raggio lusinghier» that Rossini wrote for his Semiramide, and the ‘grande scena’ made famous by Isabella Colbran, taken from La morte di Semiramide (attributed to Sebastiano Nasolini) of 1815, within which, thanks to the recording project, a large section composed by Rossini has come to light; previously unknown, it is published here for the very first time.

The Italian art song (lirica da camera) represents from the research point of view a subject that remains as yet little studied: among future projects, therefore, is the publication of articles and essays that will extend our knowledge of them, focusing on the context and creative process no less than on the composers, interpreters, publishers, teachers and writers who were involved.

The cities of Turin, Florence, Rome, Naples and above all Milan were the most active and prolific centres where the Italian lirica da camera flourished: from there, it spread throughout the country, and across national borders to Vienna, Paris, St Petersburg, reaching as far as royal circles in London. And it is in the British capital that Consonarte has established its official headquarters: London has always been a key city, attracting and promulgating exceptional musical geographies and lively cultural exchanges – especially in relation to the triumph of Italian vocal music – and it has always shown intense admiration for Italian composers and performers throughout the ages, welcoming and appreciating them.

Milan, the cradle of Italian music publishing as well as a ‘workshop’ that has proved particularly productive of vocal chamber music, is where Consonarte has chosen to have the printing of its own musical scores done: overseeing every detail – from the quality of the paper to the printing artisanship – of what represents one of the most ancient of crafts that, in its defiance of the insubstantiality of virtual products, ought by right to have a continued and renewed flowering within the European Community.


Co-founder
Frank Bonitatibus
Administration, Graphic design and online services

Co-founder
Anna Bonitatibus
Publishing project director
Project consultant and contributor, Editor
Davide Verga
Musicologist, Oboist, Dramaturg, Lecturer
Score editing, Project consultant
Alessandro Monga
Musicologist, Flautist, Lecturer
Project consultant, Editor
Paolo Longo
Composer, Orchestra conductor
Project consultant, Editor
Emilio Sala
Musicologist – Università degli Studi di Milano
Research consultant, Editor
Sergio Ragni
Historian, Researcher
Poetry consultant, Editor
Giovanni Salis
Musicologist, Lecturer, Poet
Consultant, Editor
Elisabetta Pasquini
Musicologist – The University of Bologna
Consultant, Editor
Roger Parker
Musicologist – King's College London
General Editor of the critical edition of Works of Gaetano Donizetti (Ricordi)
Consultant, Editor
Carlida Steffan
Musicologist
Lecturer, Istituto Superiore di Studi Musicali Vecchi-Tonelli, Modena
Consultant, Editor
Francesco Izzo
Musicologist – University of Southampton
General Editor of the critical edition Works of Giuseppe Verdi (University of Chicago Press and Ricordi)
Editor
Andrea Malnati
Musicologist
Research consultant
Eduardo Rescigno
Historian, Musicologist
Reductions for Voice and Pianoforte
Giulia Lorusso
Composer
Translations
Christine Donougher
MA Cambridge, Editor
Delia Casadei
Musicologist, Researcher
Gavin Williams
Musicologist, Researcher
Secretary
John Willett