Ancor che col partire

In 1547, Perissone Cambio's first book of madrigals for 4 voices was published by the Gardano press in Venice. It contained 3 pieces by Cipriano de Rore. By this time, de Rore had already published two books of 5 voice madrigals, and one 4-voice book of note nere madrigals. In the next several decades, this piece would become one of the most popular and widely distributed madrigals across Europe, ported to many different instrumental arrangements, as well as used as a melodic model for at least two masses, and a magnificat.

The original prints:

The poem used is attributed to Alfonso d'Avalos (1502-1546), a Spanish condottiero who saw considerable military success in early 16c Italy. The text displays the typical eroticism of many mid-century madrigals.

  Ancor che col partire
io mi sento morire,
partir vorrei ogn' hor, ogni momento:
tant' il piacer ch'io sento
de la vita ch'acquisto nel ritorno:
et cosi mill' e mille volt' il giorno
partir da voi vorrei:
tanto son dolci gli ritorni miei.
Although when I part from you
it is a kind of dying,
I would be glad to leave you every hour, every moment,
so great is my joy
as life comes flooding back to me on my return:
and so a thousand times a day
I would that I could part from you:
for so my heart leaps when we are reunited.
   translation by Mick Swithinbank at CPDL
Translations into French, German and Spanish available at the Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL).


Below is a transcription of the original madrigal:

The madrigal was used as a model for several prints and manuscripts of viola bastarda repertoire. The below version by Rognoni (from his 1591 Passagi per potersi essercitare) is one of the more accessible bastarda pieces:

The original print includes many changes of clef, typically where the point of imitation switches from one voice to another. The above version along with a modern transcription of the Rore arrangement should make studying the bastarda version easier.

The popularity of the madrigal is also demonstrated by the numerous transcriptions made of it to other instrumental formats, including the lute and keyboard. Quite a number of lute versions exist, in German, Italian, and French lute tab. The below version is from Antonio di Becchi's 1568 print from the Scotto press in Venice:

Keyboard intabulations also exist. The first below is from Ammerbach's 1583 volume, printed in German organ tablature, which is exceptionally concise for transmitting pieces of 4 voices for keyboard:

Andrea Gabrieli left us an elaborately decorated keyboard piece in his Terzo libro di ricercari, published a decade after his death by his nephew Giovanni. (printed in Italian intabulation, which closely resembles the modern keyboard score):

In 1591, Giovanni Bassano published a volume of highly decorated single lines of music from many well-known madrigals, motets, and French chansons of the past several decades. Included are 3 versions of voices of Ancor che col partire, two canto and one basso. They work well-enough on their own with simple chordal accompaniment, or in consort with the other parts (though the bass part occasionally uses snippets of the tenor voice, bastarda-like). Here is the bass and first canto one (I haven't completed the second):