Vivian Fine





Madrigali Spirituali




14 minutes


Trumpet and string quartet 


Music From Angel Fire Festival


August 27, 1989, Angel Fire, New Mexico. Stephen Burns, trumpet, Ida Kavafian and Pamela Frank, violins, Toby Appel, viola, and Warren Lash, cello


Available on demo CD

program notes

Madrigali Spirituali was composed…for Music at Angel Fire, a festival held in New Mexico. The composer’s creative process, [Fine] explained, followed a very personal and natural path: New Mexico is, to her, a place of great spirituality; a similar feeling was present during a performance of Palestrina’s music by her daughter’s choir; the trumpet is, by tradition, a heavenly spiritual instrument; Stephen Burns and the Ida Kavafian String Quartet would be at Angel Fire; and the piece was born. The Women’s Philharmonic commissioned the orchestration of this work in honor of our Tenth Anniversary.

–Program for Women’s Philharmonic concert, Berkeley, California, November 3, 1990


The first section, marked Lento (there are six sections), is a series of arched antecedent and consequent phrases occurring between the trumpet and cello and later the first violin. Each acts as a solo vocalist…creating the impression of spatial antiphonal voices. The movement is short, with the string quartet providing several cadences of a unison G or major third of E-flat-G. Such attention to consonance is becoming more prominent in [Fine’s] later works. The second section continues the slowly moving unison and consonant texture using the ensemble with muted trumpet… Fragments from the beginning are heard, sometimes rearranged and recombined in a meditativelike setting. The third section introduces… techniques from previous compositions, such as string harmonics from Missa Brevis, trumpet half-valving to produce quarter tones heard in the Quartet for Brass, and a texture of rapid dynamic envelope changes also from the Quartet and Missa Brevis… The next section recalls another favored texture, a canon between the two violins… The fifth section, an allegro, is a rescoring of material from Asphodel with the trumpet having the soprano line. The ending is a return to the beginning section. Fine’s Madrigali Spirituali is a scrapbook of favorite ideas or voices from her past works that summarizes some of her deepest feelings.

–Heidi Von Gunden, The Music of Vivian Fine, Scarecrow Press, 1999


“Madrigali Spirituali…had everything. Everything you could ask for from a 12 minute quintet for trumpet and strings, at any rate: simplicity, approachability, depth, power. And beauty. Despite a diffused, slightly austere harmonic language that was virtually atonal, the new work by festival composer-in-residence Vivian Fine breathed fresh melodic air in Sunday’s world premiere performance. It combined the transparency and spiritual uplift of Renaissance polyphony with the plain sentiment of Anglo-American folk melody and the complex psychological probing of musical modernism.
     “Fine’s piece was a hit with the near-capacity audience….Fine poured 66 years of composing experience into the six short movements to blend its strongly contrasting elements with brilliant, paradoxical deftness. Trumpeter Steven Burns and a string quartet led by violinist Ida Kavafian played Fine’s fluently complex music to a turn.”

–David Noble, Albuquerque Journal, August 29, 1989

audio files

section 1