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G 11.014 CoverBenedetto Marcello (1686–1739)
Pecorelle che pascete

Cantata for soprano voice, alto recorder and basso continuo
Edited by Enrico Zanoni
Realization of the thorough bass by Eckhart Kuper

Girolamo G 11.014, score and 3 parts, € 18,00
ISMN 979-0-50084-055-8

sample page

G 11.013 G 11.015



The source of Pecorelle che pascete is the manuscript Cantate 26 kept in the prestigious and rich Library of the Neapolitan Conservatorio di musica S. Pietro a Majella (RISM: I-Nc Cantate 26). The manuscript is composed of 156 folios and contains more than twenty secular cantatas dating from the first half of the XVIIIth century by many different Italian composers, both from northern and southern Italy such as A. Scarlatti, P. Sammartini, B. Marcello, F. Gasparini, N. Porpora or D. N. Sarro. It includes five cantatas for voice, recorder and basso continuo, mainly written by anonymous composers.

Although Pecorelle che pascete was written for the manuscript Cantate 26 without giving any indication of its composer, after some research, it turned out to be a cantata composed by Benedetto Marcello (1686–1739), the noble Venetian composer, music theorist, poet, writer, known also as Driante Sacreo, the name he had chosen on entering in the Accademia d'Arcadia. The earlier version of this piece was composed for soprano and basso continuo without any obbligato instrument, and the fact that it is included in different manuscript sources shows its high degree of appreciation among the public of that time. In the version for voice and basso continuo contained in one of these manuscripts (GB-Lbl Add MS 14215) we find this important indication: «Finijs 5 luglio 1715». The Neapolitan manuscript's version with the recorder part is dated 1724 and so, it must probably be a re-arrangement of the previous two part cantata.

Even if we have no certain proof that Marcello personally wrote this instrumental part for his cantata, nothing forbids us to think that Marcello himself could have made this re-arrangement of one of his most famous cantatas. The addition of the recorder part seems so natural by a composer who published a whole collection of recorder sonatas such as Suonate a flauto solo con il suo basso continuo Op. 2, Venezia 1712.

Despite the lack of the composer's name in the score, there are various reasons for believing that Marcello could be the author of our re-arrangement. Two facts strengthen this theory: The first fact is that the manuscript Cantate 26 includes another cantata by Benedetto Marcello, Se nel mondo v'e' mai, written for soprano and basso continuo and dated 1726; the second fact is that in other Neapolitan manuscripts, dating from the same period and containing music with recorder, there happen to be arias without indication of the author, even if we know for sure that these pieces are written by the same composer of other pieces contained in the same manuscript. This could have neglected by the copyist or could have been a deliberate omission: since the piece was so famous at that time, maybe it was not necessary to point this out.

The added recorder part is not the only significant difference between the two versions: all the two part versions we have seen have a recitativo that has the same verses, but its musical setting is totally different. Finally, it is interesting to notice that the pastoral verses of the cantata were probably written by Benedetto Marcello who, as we know, was also a good poet and writer.

London, August 2011, Enrico Zanoni


Aria 1

Pecorelle che pascete,
non bevete a questo rio
perché col pianto mio

Pastorelle innamorate,
non posate in questi fiori,
perché coi miei dolori
amor gl'avvelenò.


Queste stille frequenti onde
mirate molle, è sparsa l'erbetta,
non son dell'alba, no,
son di quest'occhi,
lacrime sfortunate.
E quei caldi sospiri
ond'ogn'aura s'accende
non son Zefiri, no,
son miei sospiri.
Lontana è Filli, oh Dio!
Filli è lontana,
e mentre io la bramo,
sospirando e piangendo
in van la chiamo.

Aria 2

S'io chiedo al venticello
dove il mio ben s'asconde
con un sospir risponde
e poi s'en và.

S'al chiaro bel ruscello
dell'Idol mio dimando,
risponde lacrimando,
altro non fà.


Aria 1

Little sheep grazing,
drink not from this river
because it has been clouded
by my tears.

Shepherdesses in love,
rest not on these flowers,
because love has poisoned them
with my suffering.


These plentiful drops
spilled on the grass you see,
do not belong to the dawn, no,
they belong to these eyes,
unfortunate tears.
And these warm sighs
lighting up all airs
are not the breeze, no,
they are my sighs.
Filli is far away, oh God!
Far away is Filli,
and while I desire her,
sighing and crying
I call her in vain.

Aria 2

If I ask the wind
where my beloved is hiding,
it answers with a sigh,
and then goes away.

If I ask the beautiful clear brook
about my beloved,
it replies weeping;
it does nothing else.

Translation: E. Zanoni