Giovanni Antonio Cangiasi (? - c. 1614)
Italian composer and organist. He was a Franciscan friar, organist at Vercelli Cathedral in 1590 and at San Francesco, Milan, in 1602; in 1607 and 1611 he was based at the abbey of his order in Locarno. By 1614, when he published his Scherzi forastieri, he had become organist at the Chiesa maggiore in Castelnuovo Scrivia, near Voghera.
The part-books of the three-voice Sacrae cantiones are dedicated to Giovanni Lussio, a high-ranking official at the Gonzaga court, while the score that was issued with them is dedicated to Francesco Trevano, a member of the local nobility, and bears his arms on the title-page. After an opening sequence of motets for performance on specific saints’ days, the book passes to works of more general relevance and finishes with an eight-voice Magnificat. His Psalmodia, dedicated to the Apostolic Nuncio, whose coat of arms appear on the title-page, makes widespread use of falsobordone writing and concludes with three Magnificat settings in different modes.
The Melodia sacra, published in the following year, includes two dialogue motets, a piece celebrating the life of Carlo Borromeo and his connections with Milan, and Udite verbum Domini in which passages for instruments interrupt the vocal dialogue in a style that, in his explanatory remarks to the piece, Cangiasi compared to that of the canzon francese. He further explored this manner of writing in the Scherzi forastieri, his only volume of purely instrumental music. Some of the descriptive and fanciful titles of these pieces derive from the well-known secular tunes that appear sometimes in modified form, in one or more of the instrumental parts but most refer to their dedicatees. Some of the writing is smooth and imitative, but many of the pieces are multi-sectional and more disjointed, with predominantly homophonic textures. Cangiasi’s Scherzi are firmly in the Milanese tradition of instrumental canzonas that began in about 1580 and continued until the third decade of the 17th century. Written for four instruments with equal ranges, they are mostly multi-sectional; most make some use of thematic variation. In keeping with a practice that had become increasingly common since the publication of Viadana’s Cento concerti ecclesiastici (Venice, 1602), Cangiasi’s Scherzi was issued with a score which duplicates the instrumental parts.