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Towards the end of his life the composer, diplomat and bishop Agostino Steffani (1654–1728) was invited to send some examples of his work to the recently established Academy of Vocal (later ‘Ancient’) Music in London. As well as dispatching existing pieces, he supplied two new ones – a madrigal and a motet. In a manuscript that reflects the Academy’s repertory the madrigal is preceded by the anonymous chamber duet La canzona che volete and the instruction ‘Segue Madrigale’. The humorous text of the duet refers to a madrigal and is redolent of Steffani’s wit. The chamber duet is the form by which the composer was best known, and La canzona is an accomplished example, displaying effortless counterpoint in the duet movement and technical ingenuity in the two solos, built on related ground basses. There are good reasons, therefore, for attributing this piece to Steffani.
Music example (pdf)