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Henri IV - An unfinished reign

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Non più guerra

Peter Philips

Source : ‘Peter Philips: Motets & Madrigaux’; Cappella Mediterranea; dir. Leonardo García Alarcón; Ambronay AMY015 (2008).


Here we are entering the ranks of the Spanish army, cornered and besieged in Amiens. This predicament is suggested via a – very figurative – instrumental version of the start of an eight-voice madrigal by the English composer Peter Philips, based on a text by the poet Giovanni Battista Guarini.
Philips, a Catholic, fled his Protestant native land in August 1582. He took refuge in Rome, where he entered the service of Lord Thomas Paget, a fellow Catholic exile, whom he followed throughout Europe before settling in Antwerp (1590). In 1597, Philips became a member of the House of Archduke Albert of Austria, co-sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands and nephew of Philip II of Spain, whose daughter, Isabella, he married in 1598. The eight voices are divided into two choirs. During the piece, they size each other up, distrustfully, before coming to an agreement, via a dialogue with warlike accents that metaphorically depicts the struggle between heart and head that a soul in love experiences. This was the dilemma with which Henry IV was confronted in late 1609 and early 1610, when he stood up to the Spanish clan one last time. He did so in an attempt to obtain the return of the princesse de Conde, with whom he was infatuated and whom her jealous husband had spirited away to the Albert and Isabella of Austria's court in Brussels.

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