Salve, Regina

Composed by Giovanni Legrenzi
Edited by Brian Clark
Series Editor: Simon Carrington
Voicing: SATTB
Instrumentation: continuo
Catalog number: AMP 0602
Price: $2.10

Giovanni Legrenzi was one of the most influential Italian composers in the second half of the 17th century. Under his direction, the cappella at San Marco grew to an unprecedented scale. Although his output also includes operas and a set of madrigals, he is primarily remembered for his instrumental sonatas and his many volumes of church music which range from solo motets to large psalm settings for double choir and instruments, intended for days when the splendid golden altarpiece at St Markęs was revealed to church-goers on special feast days.

This setting of “Salve, Regina” was published, along with the other three Marian antiphons (“Ave regina coelorum,” “Regina coeli” and “Alma Redemptoris mater”) in Legrenzięs complete set for the service of Compline, that appeared in Venice in 1662. Apart from some short solo sections, the entire service as set by Legrenzi is scored for five-part choir with continuo. The realisation for organ printed here is little more than a guide for inexperienced players and should be used a basis for a more idiomatic accompaniment. “Salve, Regina” is the specified antiphon from Trinity Sunday until the Sunday before Advent.

Brian Clark
Prima la musica!
United Kingdom

PERFORMANCE NOTE Current informed editorial custom frowns on multiple marks in choral scores, but music of this period is highly effective when performed with a wide range of expression and dynamic.

Here are a few suggestions for those less familiar with the idiom
  • Follow the correct stress of the Latin text.
  • Allow each phrase to be sung as if pronounced by a fine actor, trained in the art
    of being persuasive (rhetoric).
  • Allow repeated text fragments to build ę much as in speech.
  • Every note longer than a quarter needs direction: e.g. away from a stress or
    towards a suspension.
  • Series of shorter length notes imply urgency and can push forward: e.g. mm 7-10,
    13-15, 16-18.
  • Cadences or half cadences after such passages can be stretched out.
  • Time can be taken at sentence breaks:
    - e.g. m19, m29 (lengthen the first 8th in the alto), m93, m98 (lengthen the 3rd
    beat in tenor), m103 etc.
  • The emotions implied by both text and music encourage a considerable dynamic
    range - e.g. mm19ę23, build from p to mf; mm24-28 build again from mf to ff
    at the cadence.
  • The climax of cadences is the suspension - not the last note: crescendo to the
    suspension but then allow the tension to ease.
  • Relish the hemiolas: e.g. ad nos convertere
  • Don't be afraid of the occasional dramatic effect: e.g. m116 last beat f, m118 last
    beat p, m120-end pp
Tempi: Try m1-46 at a quarter note equals 76 (but with lots of flexibility!);
m46-91 at a quarter note equals 144 (but one beat in a bar);
m92-end quarter note equals 88

Simon Carrington Yale Institute of Sacred Music and School of Music Yale University Salve Regina, mater misericordiae; vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve Ad te clamamus, exules filii Evae. Ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle. Eia ergo, advocate nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte. Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tuis nobis post hoc exilium ostende. O clemens, o pia, o dulcis virgo Maria. Hail, Queen, mother of mercies; (our) life, (our) sweetness, and our hope, hail to you we cry, exiled children of Eve. To you we sigh groaning and weeping in this valley of tears. Hasten therefore, our advocate, your merciful eyes toward us turn. And Jesus, the blessed fruit of your womb, to us after this exile show. O merciful, o gentle, o sweet virgin Mary. Giovanni Legrenzi's “Salve, Regina” is included as an antiphon on the CD entitled
Heinrich Biber: Vesperae Longiores ac Breviores (1693) recorded by Yale Schola Cantorum,
directed by Simon Carrington – available from

Click here to see a sample.

Click here to listen to a recording (MP3).

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