The Queen’s Music: Italian Vocal
Duets and Trios AnonymousParlate per me [2:02] Luigi ROSSI
(c.1597-1653) Tu sarai sempre [2:24] Antonio CESTI
(1623-1669) Gia son morto [3:05]; Dite o Cieli
[1:34] AnonymousPian piano mio core [2:43] Girolamo Alessandro FRESCOBALDI
(1583-1643) Toccate e partite d'intavolatura di cimbalo
et organo, libro primo: Toccata ottava [4:04] Giacomo CARISSIMI
(1605-74) Sciolto havean dall’alte sponde (I naviganti)
[12:56] Girolamo Alessandro FRESCOBALDIIn partitura il primo libro delle canzoni: Canzona settima detta
la Superba (o Tuccina) (arr. for cello and harpsichord) [3:36]
Luigi ROSSI O Cieli pieta
[3:38]; Lasso benche mi fugga [4:40] Girolamo Alessandro FRESCOBALDI
Toccate e partite d'intavolatura di cimbalo et organo, libro
primo: Toccata nona [5:27] Luigi ROSSI Pene che volete
[2:06]; Pietà, spietati lumi [2:49] AnonymousPartitevi da me [2:13] Luigi ROSSI Vorrei scoprirti
[2:42] AnonymousOcchi Belli [2:14] Girolamo Alessandro FRESCOBALDIToccate e partite d’intavolatura di cimbalo et organo, libro
secondo: Toccata seconda [3:41] Anonymous E’ di ragion [4:18]
Emma Kirkby, Susanne Rydén (sopranos); Peter Harvey (baritone);
Mikarl Bellini (counter-tenor); Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (cello);
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (harpsichord)
rec. Länna Church, Sweden, May 2008. DDD.
Booklet includes texts and translations.
BIS BIS-CD-1715 [68:16]
All that Emma Kirkby’s many fans – I’m a long-standing member
– need to know is that her voice is still holding up extremely
well at an age which I’m too gallant to mention, but when many
sopranos have fizzled out. She enjoys excellent support from
Susanne Rydén, whose voice is just different enough to be distinguishable
from and to blend with Kirkby’s in duets and ensembles. The
singing and playing of the other performers here is also predictably
first-rate. This is matched up with excellent recording, short
but informative notes and texts with idiomatic translations.
You may purchase The Queen’s Music with confidence.
The programme, derived from a manuscript in the library of Christ
Church, Oxford, and connected with the court of the Swedish
Queen Christina prior to her abdication in 1654, is ideal for
Kirkby and her collaborators. The music is all attractive: it’s
interesting to speculate to what extent Christina’s love of
this kind of Italian music led her to Rome. The most familiar
name among the composers of the vocal items, and the one most
frequently represented on this recording, is that of Luigi Rossi,
closely followed by that of Carissimi, who contributes the longest
item here, I Naviganti, the Sailors.
Most of the music is for two sopranos, but there are other combinations
to provide a variety, including duets for soprano and baritone,
on some of which Kirkby features, with Rydén on others. The
variety is further strengthened by the inclusion of four keyboard
works by Frescobaldi, one of them rearranged for cello and harpsichord
for even greater variety. Lars Ulrik Mortensen performs these
in a manner likely to make you want more – in which case, you
can’t do better than to turn to Richard Lester’s unfolding series
on Nimbus – see review.
Rossi and Carissimi were connected with the early development
of opera and much of their music has an operatic intensity.
I Naviganti in particular, for two sopranos and baritone,
is reminiscent of the semi-operatic Florentine Intermedii
of 1589, the splendid EMI recording of which, directed by Andrew
Parrott, seems unfortunately to have fallen out of the catalogue,
though a later version directed by Skip Sempé is still available
as a download from Amazon.co.uk and on CD from Amazon.com in
the US. I Naviganti is not only the longest work in the
collection; it’s also the highlight as far as I’m concerned.
The Queen’s Music offers 68 minutes of sheer delight,
but I can report an even longer and equally delectable programme.
Emma Kirkby also appears with Jakob Lindberg (lute) on a recent
BIS CD of earlier music, equally divided between Purcell and
Dowland, Orpheus in England, BIS-CD-1725. As on The
Queen’s Music, instrumental tracks are interspersed among
the vocal items; nobody does them better or proves a better
accompanist in the songs than Lindberg.
You may already have some of Kirkby’s earlier recordings of
this repertoire, for example with Anthony Rooley on a most inexpensive
Virgin Veritas 2-CD set (5624102, around £7.50), but the partnership
with Lindberg is – predictably – at least as fruitful. I listened
to this recording via the Naxos Music Library in more than acceptable
sound, so the CD – or the lossless download from eclassical.com,
for $8.81 – here
– can be endorsed with confidence. Eclassical.com and the Naxos
Music Library both offer the booklet. Essential listening, both.
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