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Concerto Delle Donne

Prioli / La Primavera / Comte
Release Date: 04/13/2010 
Label:  Ligia   Catalog #: 202118   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Marieta Morosina PrioliFrancesca CacciniSettimia CacciniBarbara Strozzi,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ITALIAN MUSIC OF THE 17TH CENTURY BY FEMALE COMPOSERS La Primavera LIGIA 0202118-02 (69:09)


PRIOLI Balletto secondo. Corrente seconda. Corrente prima. Balletto primo. F. CACCINI Dispiegate guancie amate. Lasciate mi. Aria sopra la romanesca. S. CACCINI Già sperai. STROZZI Moralita amorosa. Read more Pensaci ben. Lagrime mie. Dialogo in partenza. LEONARDA Sonata XII. Sonata V. BADALLA O fronde care


“Italian Music of the 17th Century by Female Composers” reads this album’s title. So much is true, though I suspect tracing the accumulation of wealth and sophistication in the Italian States that led to higher status for upper-class women of the time would take a good scholarly tome or two to tease out. The composers themselves use texts that are standard for the period: jealous rages, rebellious affections, laments of lost love, meditations on the nature of love, etc. The musical language they deploy is identical to those of their male counterparts. If their works are worth hearing, it isn’t because of gender, but because of intrinsic merit, and fortunately there’s a good deal of that here.


Several of these composers have achieved more prominence of late, Barbara Strozzi in particular. The adopted daughter of poet and playwright Giulio Strozzi, she studied music with Francesco Cavalli, and became over the years a respected member of the Venetian artistic elite. She is represented by three ambitious scenes and a song (the playful yet pensive Pensaci ben ) that demonstrate a keen awareness of Monteverdi’s seconda prattica.


Francesca Caccini, daughter of the composer Giulio, is represented by two scenes, and a transcription of a vocal work for recorder with keyboard accompaniment. Her sister, Settimia, of whom little is known, is also heard in a scene—one of very few works by this singer/composer to have survived the years with identification. The music of both siblings eschews heavily chromatic recitative for strophic patterns, and dance-like rhythms—in other words, for the monodic system zealously espoused by their opera-writing father in opposition to the dissonance and chromaticisms of his main rival, Peri.


Isabella Leonarda was a wealthy noblewoman and nun from Novara, who achieved increasingly prominent positions at her convent over the years, becoming the mother superior in 1686, and provincial mother superior in 1693 at the age of 73. At about that time she published her op. 16, a set of sonatas that looks back to the harmonic procedures and structures of her youth. No novice at music—she eventually wrote and published more than 200 works in 20 collections—Leonarda was a sophisticated musician with a gift for arching melody and sophisticated counterpoint.


The rest of the music on this release comes from musicians of whom next to nothing is currently known. Prioli’s various instrumentals (from a 1665 Venetian collection, Battetti et Corretti ) furnish pleasantly complex dance intermissions in three active voices. Badalla’s O fronde care is fairly dull fare compared to everything else on this album, but it again provides a light break between the heavier main fare on this disc.


The performances are variable, but in general fine. Johannette Zomer is excellent. Her lyric soprano is agile and focused in Moralita amorosa , without any hint of breathiness. She interprets with a sure theatrical sense, applies trills with ease, and uses vibrato, ornaments, dynamics, and pitch effects with good results. Robert Expert unfortunately combines a pleasant if one-color countertenor with poor control in his lower range. O fronde care displays clumsy movement between notes, and a fluttery tone. Lasciate mi and the only duet here, Dialogo in partenza , show him off to better advantage in his upper range, with a good feeling for dynamics. Those are the only three selections featuring his work; Zomer handles the majority of the singing. The accompaniment and instrumentals performed by the rest of La Primavera are in sure hands, though I found Clémence Comte’s recorder stylish but slightly uneven in breathing (meaning pitch) at times. I would have preferred a bit more fire occasionally as the text and music demand, as in the line “Il paterno rigor l’impriggiono” ( Lagrime mie ), but overall, these are attentive, theatrically alive performances of music that demand a stage, if only in the mind.


The engineering is effective, a small room ambiance rather than the cathedral-like cavern some early-music ensembles (and especially vocalists) are gifted with these days. Generalized liner notes are supplied that focus on bios of the composers, where known, rather than on the music. We are offered Italian texts, with translations—in Dutch. That aside, this album is warmly recommended for the alert it provides to some fine music that goes poorly represented on disc. Let’s hope more of Strozzi, Caccini, and Leonarda will surface in the medium.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1. Balletto secondo (from Balletti et Correnti, Venise, 1665) by Marieta Morosina Prioli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
2. Dispiegate guancie amate by Francesca Caccini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 2 Minutes 21 Secs. 
3. Corrente seconda by Marieta Morosina Prioli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 1 Minutes 24 Secs. 
4. Già sperai by Settimia Caccini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 4 Minutes 9 Secs. 
5. Corrente prima by Marieta Morosina Prioli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 1 Minutes 23 Secs. 
6. Moralità amorosa by Barbara Strozzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 17th Century; Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 4 Minutes 18 Secs. 
7. Lasciatemi qui solo (from Il primo libro delle Musiche, Firenze) by Francesca Caccini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1618 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 5 Minutes 45 Secs. 
8. Aria sopra la romanesca "Dov' io credea" by Francesca Caccini
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 2 Minutes 58 Secs. 
9. Pensaci ben mio core by Barbara Strozzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 6 Minutes 14 Secs. 
10. Sonata Duodecima by Isabella Leonarda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 8 Minutes 47 Secs. 
11. Diporti di Euterpe, Op. 7: Lagrime mie by Barbara Strozzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1659; Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 10 Minutes 0 Secs. 
12. Sonata quinta, for 2 violins (or recorders), violone & continuo by Isabella Leonarda
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 4 Minutes 12 Secs. 
13. O fronde care by Rosa Giacinta Badalla
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 9 Minutes 9 Secs. 
14. Baletto primo by Marieta Morosina Prioli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 2 Minutes 36 Secs. 
15. Anima del mio core by Barbara Strozzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Primavera
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Koepelkerk, Renswoude, The Netherlands 
Length: 3 Minutes 41 Secs. 

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