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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

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La Musica: 16th and 17th Century Music and A Surprise
Francesca Caccini (1587-c.1640)
Che desia di saper’ * [1:54]
Sigismondo d’INDIA (1580-c.1629)
Là tra’il sangue è le morti * [1:50]
Alessandro PICCININI (1566-c.1638)
Toccata XI * [2:34]
Corrente XI * [2:01]
Francesca CAMPANA (d.1665)
Pargoletta, vezzosetta * [2:44]
Settimia CACCINI (1591-c.1638)
Già sperai, non spero hor’ più * [1:54]
Francesca Caccini (1587-c.1640)
La pastorella mia tra i fiori * [3:28]
Fabritio CAROSO (c.1531-c.1605)
Forza d’amore * [1:53]
ANONYMOUS

Trista sort’ è la mia sorte * [2:52]
Giovanni Girolamo KAPSPERGER (c.1580-1651)
Figlio dormi * [4:19]
Barbara STROZZI (1619-1677)
Tradimento! * [2:39]
Che si può fare? * [11:33]
ANONYMOUS
 
La Folia * [6:05]
Barbara STROZZI (1619-1677)
Non pavento io non di te * [4:12]
Julie KABAT (b.1947)
Five Poems by H.D. ** [13:11]
Invocation in Centrifugal Form *** [9:55]
Carol Plantamura (soprano); Jürgen Hübscher (lute; archlute; Spanish baroque guitar); Beverly Lauridsen (viola da gamba); ** Julie Kabat (spoken voice; glass harmonium; saw); Ben Hudson (violin); *** Julie Kabat (voice; glass harmonium)
rec. * 1984, Congregation Emanu-El, Westchester, Westchester County, New York, ADD; **/*** 1983, St. Michael’s Episcopal Parish House, New York City, DDD.
LEONARDA LE 350 [73:01]

A well-chosen programme of seventeenth century songs and lute music, pleasantly performed, plus a genuine surprise - all formerly issued on LP by Leonarda. The CD cover carries a reproduction of one of my favourite paintings, Bartlomeo Veneto’s Lady Playing A Lute, from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California!
 
Carol Plantamura is a singer of extensive experience, a good deal of it in contemporary music. She was a founding member of Musica Elettronica Viva in Rome; she has sung with L’Ensemble intercontemporain, based in Paris. The composers she has worked with include Foss, Cage, Boulez, Berio and Globokar. She has recorded for Wergo, DG and Fonit/Cetra. She teaches in the department of Music at the University of California, San Diego. She lived for twenty years in Italy, and her love and understanding of things Italian is evident in her singing here – as well as in publications such as The Opera Lover’s Guide to Italy and When in Italy - a guide for foodlovers.
 
Her singing is idiomatic and personable, with a strong - but not exaggerated - sense of drama and Jürgen Hübscher and Beverly Lauridsen are sympathetic accompanists. The programme’s emphasis is on women composers - one of Plantamura’s other publications is, apparently, a children’s colouring book of women composers! The sisters Francesca and Settimia Caccini, daughters of the composer - and theorist and singer - Giulio Caccini and the singer Lucia Caccini, were themselves influential figures in the musical life of Italy, as both composers and performers. Francesca was no ‘mere’ singer, for she was admired as a lutenist and harpsichordist and, indeed, as a poet. Her ‘Chi desia de saper’’ is a canzonetta for soprano and Spanish guitar and is an impassioned warning against the dangers of love, performed with panache by singer and instrumentalist. Settimia’s ‘Già sperai, non spero hor’ più’ is full of dramatic syncopations and closes with a cry for vengeance that brings out the best in Plantamura. The Caccini sisters largely made their reputations in Florence though Settimia did important work in Mantua. Barbara Strozzi was very much a Venetian, a student of Cavalli, adopted - and perhaps illegitimate - daughter of the poet Giulio Strozzi who was important as a librettist. Strozzi’s music is more widely known than it was when these recordings were made more than twenty years ago. The most substantial work here is the lament ‘Che si può fare’, published in Strozzi’s eighth Book of Songs in 1664. It has affinities with some of Strozzi’s other laments, such as her ‘Lamento del Marchese Cinq-Mars’. It begins quietly, mixes recitative and aria in ways that are not always predictable and is a minor masterpiece of its age. It receives an entirely worthy performance here.
 
Elsewhere Jürgen Hübscher takes centre-stage in some solos for Spanish guitar (La Folia), archlute (by Piccinini) and lute (by Caroso). He is an assured and accomplished performer, if less dazzling than some exponents of this kind of music.
 
If one chooses to listen to the CD straight through then, having been steeped in the idioms of seventeenth century Italy for some fifty minutes, it does indeed come as something of a surprise when Julie Kabat’s performance of her setting of five poems by H.D. (i.e. Hilda Doolittle) begins.
 
Look merely at the instrumentation and one assumes that this is going to be rather silly or gimmicky. In fact the results are striking and intriguing. The unearthly sound produced by the combination of the glass harmonium and the violin proves to be a wholly appropriate background to Ms. Kabat’s slow-paced reading of H.D.’s words. I do, though, find it hard to take the musical saw very seriously. In her Invocation in Centrifugal Form, Kabat’s wordless vocal interacts with the glass harmonium in a piece at its best when closest to a kind of meditative quiet in passages which contain some moments of real beauty. Elsewhere it bears a resemblance to surrealist and dada word games. Overall, it struggles to sustain interest through all of the almost ten minutes that it lasts.
 
In her book The Opera Lover’s Guide to Europe (Robson Books, 1997) Carol Plantamura writes “Italy and opera are inextricably bound: expressive, expansive, exciting, exaggerated, and, above all, beautiful. The Italian language evokes the sound of singing; the small towns look like opera sets; the irrepressible Italian spirit is operatic”. Though the repertoire she sings here is not operatic - though some of the composers, such as Francesca Caccini did also distinguish themselves in opera - that same sympathetic enthusiasm for, and identification with, the spirit of Italian vocal music informs her performance on this CD.

Glyn Pursglove
 

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