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The Queen's Music - Italian 17th-century Vocal Duets & Trios / Kirkby, Ryden, Harvey

Carissimi / Rossi / Cesti / Frescobaldi
Release Date: 10/26/2010 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1715  
Composer:  AnonymousLuigi RossiAntonio CestiGirolamo Frescobaldi,   ... 
Performer:  Emma KirkbySusanne RydénMime Yamahiro BrinkmannLars Ulrik Mortensen,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



THE QUEEN’S MUSIC: Italian Vocal Duets and Trios Emma Kirkby, Susanne Rydén (sop); Peter Harvey (bar); Hikael Bellini (ct); Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (vc); Lars Ulrik Mortensen (hpd) BIS 1715 (68:16 Text and Translation)


L ROSSI Tu sarai sempre. Dito o Cieli. O Cieli pietà. Lasso benché mi fugga. Pene che volete. Pietà, spietati lumi. Vorrei scoprirti. FRESCOBALDI Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Toccatqa ottava. Canzona settima detta la Superba. Toccata nona. Toccata Seconda. CESTI Già son morto. CARISSIMI I Naviganti. ANON Parlate per me. Pian piano mio core. Partitevi da me. Occhi belli. E’ di ragion


The source for the songs on this release is a manuscript in the library of Christ Church College, Oxford. Its title page bears the following: “Musica del Signor Angelo Micheli/ Uno de Musici della Capella / de Reyna di Swecia / Uppsaliae Martii 21 / 1653 / a 2 et 3 voce.” The mystery of how a collection of Italian secular songs of the mid 16th century was compiled in Sweden and ended up in England is, fortunately, relatively easy to solve. In 1651, Queen Christiana requested that the bass Alessandro Cecconi put together a company of Italian musicians to reside at the Swedish court. He gathered a group of at least 15 singers and instrumentalists mostly active in Rome, and led by a Carissimi student and celebrated organist, Vincenzo Albrici. They came to Sweden in 1652, and remained there until Christiana’s abdication in 1654.


The “Signor Angelo Micheli” referred to above was the ensemble’s theorbist, Angelo Micheli Bartolotti, who can be tentatively identified as the copyist who took the manuscript’s material from his company’s stock of up-to-date repertoire. Its recipient was Bulstrode Whitelocke, Cromwell’s ambassador to the Swedish court while negotiating a treaty between the two nations. Whitelocke’s diary mentions hearing the Italians repeatedly, and being given “a book of their songs.”


Those songs in two and three parts were, naturally enough, of contemporary Roman origin. Luigi Rossi was at the end of a long and fruitful career at that time, and in fact died within a couple of years of the musicians’ trip to Sweden. They must have taken a lot of his music along, for Bartolotti copied out a great deal of it for Whitelocke. Rossi accounts for seven selections on this album, written in the mixed aria-arioso-recitative style one might expect for the emotionally complex texts thus set. Stylistically, his Monteverdi roots show in a theatrically expansive, at times disruptive interpretation of the text, but always to good advantage. Cesti was in his 30s at that time, and Già son morto is more striking for its imaginative use of contrasting timbres than any particular expressive content. He would go on to achieve great success in opera, however. Carissimi is also represented, naturally enough, given Albrici’s presence; and Christiana must have enjoyed his music, for after she stepped down from the throne and moved to Rome, he accepted a position as her Maestro di cappella del concerto di camera , composing a wide assortment of cantatas and songs for the former ruler’s pleasure. The rest of the program includes anonymous Italian songs of stylistic pertinence and quality (thankfully not omitted because their parentage is unknown), and instrumentals by Frescobaldi, who spent much of his active career in Rome.


The performances are what you might expect, given the forces involved. Emma Kirkby is expressive as ever, her intonation razor-sharp. The voice itself, while not bright, proves still perfectly capable of meeting whatever considerable requirements are placed upon it. Susanne Rydén has a tighter, almost flicker vibrato when she chooses to use it. (Both sopranos employ vibrato regularly as a coloring device, as several prominent contemporary Renaissance theorists and composers require.) Her tone possesses a brilliant sheen that would be the envy of many another Baroque and Classical specialist, though she aspirates her runs in Lasso benché mi fugga. As with Kirkby, Rydén uses dynamics, definition, slurring, accents, and syllabic lengthening and diminution to realize these pieces where text and music are one. Much the same can be said of Peter Harvey, with a solid, dark baritone. If the vocal blend between Harvey and Kirkby is not ideal, her instrument lacking fullness next to his, the partnership between Kirbky and Rydén is very successful. Which is fortunate, as these latter duets comprise eight of the pieces on this album. Rossi’s O Cieli pieta is typical, the two sopranos trading off theme and accompaniment, unisons, thirds, and echo entries with an ease that bespeaks long practice. I could wish a more energetic tempo on a few of these selections, such as Occhi belli and Dito o Cieli , where the music suggests something livelier, but that is my only criticism, so disarmed am I by the art these singers display. The instrumental accompaniments couldn’t be bettered, while Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann in particular displays a rich tone and great agility in Frescobaldi’s Canzona Settima.


Unfortunately, the engineering is less than optimal. While the instrumentals find the musicians placed very close to the microphones to good effect, the singers are moved back somewhat, perhaps with the understanding that more of a dose of church ambience (the recording was made in Länna Church, Norrtälje) would add a sheen to the sound. It does: a kind of echoing space that has a mildly deleterious effect on both tone and definition. The results are certainly still enjoyable, but it’s as though you had a seat in the third section of a typical early-music concert set in a large church. However much you might enjoy the music, having it come at you several times with a slight delay from a variety of directions is not the best way to experience it.


But if you can get past that—and I suggest trying this album before buying—then you’ll enjoy this album of excellent works performed with style and feeling.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Parlate per me by Anonymous
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Susanne Rydén (Soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello),
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
2.
Tu sarai sempre by Luigi Rossi
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Susanne Rydén (Soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello),
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
3.
Gia son morto by Antonio Cesti
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Susanne Rydén (Soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello),
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
4.
Dite o cieli by Luigi Rossi
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello), Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord),
Peter Harvey (Bass)
5.
Pian piano mio core by Anonymous
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Susanne Rydén (Soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello),
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
6.
Toccate e partite d'intavolatura, Book 1: Toccata no 8 by Girolamo Frescobaldi
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1615/1628; Italy 
7.
Sciolto havean dall'alte sponde by Giacomo Carissimi
Performer:  Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello), Susanne Rydén (Soprano), Emma Kirkby (Soprano),
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord), Peter Harvey (Bass)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1653; Italy 
8.
In partitura, il primo libro delle canzoni per sonare...con 2 Toccate: Superba by Girolamo Frescobaldi
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1628; Rome, Italy 
9.
O cieli pieta by Luigi Rossi
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Susanne Rydén (Soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello),
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
10.
Lasso benche mi fugga by Luigi Rossi
Performer:  Peter Harvey (Bass), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello), Susanne Rydén (Soprano),
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord), Mikael Bellini (Countertenor)
11.
Toccate e partite d'intavolatura, Book 1: Toccata no 9 by Girolamo Frescobaldi
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1615/1628; Italy 
12.
Pene che volete by Luigi Rossi
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello), Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord),
Peter Harvey (Bass)
13.
Pieta, spietati lumi by Luigi Rossi
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello), Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord),
Peter Harvey (Bass)
14.
Partitevi da me by Anonymous
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Susanne Rydén (Soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello),
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
15.
Vorrei scoprirti by Luigi Rossi
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Susanne Rydén (Soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello),
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
16.
Occhi belli by Anonymous
Performer:  Emma Kirkby (Soprano), Susanne Rydén (Soprano), Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello),
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 17th Century; Italy 
17.
Toccate e partite d'intavolatura, Book 1: Toccata no 2 by Girolamo Frescobaldi
Performer:  Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1615/1628; Italy 
18.
E' di ragion by Anonymous
Performer:  Peter Harvey (Bass), Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord), Susanne Rydén (Soprano),
Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (Cello)

Sound Samples

Parlate per me
Tu sarai sempre
Gia son morto
Dite o Cieli
Pian piano mio core
Toccate e partite d'intavolatura di cimbalo et organo, libro primo: Toccata ottava
Sciolto havean dall'alte sponde (I naviganti)
In partitura il primo libro delle canzoni (arr. for cello and harpsichord): In partitura il primo libro delle canzoni: Canzona settima detta la Superba (o Tuccina) (arr. for cello and harpsichord)
O Cieli pieta
Lasso benche mi fugga
Toccate e partite d'intavolatura di cimbalo et organo, libro primo: Toccata nona
Pene che volete
Pieta, spietati lumi
Partitevi da me
Vorrei scoprirti
Occhi Belli*: Occhi Belli
Toccate e partite d'intavolatura di cimbalo et organo, libro secondo: Toccata seconda
E' di ragion

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