Meditations. Les quatre saisons du luth, the latest recording of lutenist Simone Vallerotonda, is a complex album consisting of four suites, each associated with a different tonality and season. The suites are associated with the four moods of the spirit, each of which is united with the four essential elements of the humors and seasons: winter – melancholic (earth) in A minor; summer – choleric (fire) in G minor; autumn – phlegmatic (water) in D minor; spring – sanguine (air) in A major/minor.
To conclude, a eucrasia, a “good mixture” of the four temperaments, a piece by François Couperin. The composers chosen by Vallerotonda to build this 17th-century fresco are the French composers Charles Mouton, Jacques Gallot, Robert de Visée and Valentin Strobel, among the most famous and accomplished composers of music for the lute.
In 17th-century culture, the motions of the soul could be emphasized or reflected by musical modes, as some of the works of Jesuit Athanasius Kircher testify. Indeed, listening to the pieces, performed with the precise and fluent style of Simone Vallerotonda, we can glean at least an idea of this interplay between motions of the soul and music.
La Belle Espagnole by Charles Mouton, a chaconne, a ternary dance of 16th-century origin, at first appears decisive, with defined contours, but gradually, through rhythmic breaks and a series of acciaccaturas, trills and mordents, it loses itself in time, arousing in the listeners a sense of instability, which leads, if not to a feeling of melancholy, certainly to a more introspective and meditative vision of one’s self.
This music also reaches out to the contemporary world, as we can see in the promotional video in which the Roman musician is framed playing among the ruins of Monte Cucco, where Uccellacci Uccellini was filmed, a fine homage to Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose films investigate the many facets of the human soul.
DOI: La Civiltà Cattolica, En. Ed. Vol. 6, no.7 art. 4, 0722: 10.32009/22072446.0722.4