Imagination and reality in a village chapel of Central Italy: two seventeenth-century motets in performance
Abstract: A modest Marian cycle depicted by Giovanni Domenico Muzi in the small chapel of Santa Maria della Misericordia at Gagliano Aterno (L’Aquila) and dating from the second decade of the seventeenth century, displays a surprising angelic concert related to the Assumption of the Virgin. Despite its rural location and the presumably limited number of beneficiaries, the scene illustrates the performance of two hitherto unknown motets for five voices, composed on cantus firmi derived from the antiphons Ave Maria, gratia plena, and Regina caeli laetare, respectively. Each angel is assigned a partbook-like sheet, perfectly readable and consistent with the instrument he is playing. The unusual features of this representation offer interesting clues as to the possible identity of both the composer (Alessandro Capece?) and the local patron (Don Clemente Perrucci, archpriest of San Martino?), as well as to the overall context in which the work was commissioned, including contemporary Abruzzese soni performances.