From the late 1580s onwards, the ‘craze’ for the madrigal , scored for a cappella voices or accompanied by one or more lutes, almost exactly mirrored the contemporary enthusiasm for the sonnet.
The Silver Swan is a madrigal that many of us have sung, but it is unlikely that Gibbons would have minded hearing it played as an instrumental piece - he himself suggested that his madrigals could by played by viols instead.
The form traveled all over Europe, and became particularly popular in England, where an accompanied variation of the madrigal , the lute song, took hold around the time of Shakespeare.
In Martin's mind, the madrigal was mainly a chamber contrapuntal form, best suited to small homogeneous forces and not necessarily limited to voices.
His works for viol consort include sets of fantasias and stylized dances that show the influence of Italian madrigalists such as Monteverdi, with their expressive dissonances and melodic leaps.
Rubbra is justly associated with symphonic music and a pure, distinctive style of choral writing that owes so much to his study of and deep affection for the polyphonic style of Elizabethan madrigalists .
The opening track, Dopo la vittoria, begins in sprightly madrigalian form, entirely appropriate to a commission from the City of Milan.
The development from Orfeo to those two masterpieces is astonishing, and one can only speculate from the composer's madrigals and sacred music how it all happened.
The composer uses techniques favoured by 16th century Italian madrigalists particularly those of Monteverdi and Gesualdo.
A few pieces of Italian polyphony and a couple of madrigals into their first rehearsal, someone pointed out that they had a concert coming up but no conductor.