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What Artemesia Heard: Music and Art from the Time
of Caravaggio and Gentileschi.
Details after review
Jennifer Ellis Kampani, Nell Snaidas, Céline Ricci (soprano)
Paul Shipper (bass)
El Mundo/Richard Savino
rec. Skywalker Sound, Marin County, California, 25-27 March 2014. DSD/DDD
Texts and translations included SONO LUMINUS DSL92195 [77:16]
Reviewed as 24-bit download from eclassical.com
(also available in mp3 and 16-bit lossless with pdf booklet and from
dealers on CD)
The Artemisia of the title is Artemisia Gentileschi
(1593-1653) who, having been taught by her father Orazio, went on to
become a fine painter in her own right. She is recognised today as
having effectively surpassed her father. Born in Rome, she became a
member of the Accademia in Florence, a rare honour, spent some time
in Venice and London, and died in Naples, hence the five divisions of
this programme of music, all composed roughly within her lifetime.
Her most famous paintings are of heroines, such as Judith slaying
Holofernes and Susanna and the Elders, both on Old Testament
themes from the Apocrypha. She clearly also had an interest in music:
there’s a self-portrait as a lutenist, another of St Cecilia playing
the lute and one of a young woman playing the violin. Several of these
are reproduced in colour in the booklet and many others can be found
Another major painter of the period, Caravaggio (1570-1610), has also
captured the imagination of modern art-lovers, sometimes for non-artistic
reasons – as one of the few artists to have a long police record. He
too sometimes depicted musicians, as in the painting of The Musicians
(1595), also reproduced in the booklet, though his most famous works
are the two depictions of the Supper at Emmaus, one in the National
Gallery in London, with its almost 3D sense of depth. His place in
this recital is due mainly to the fact that Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi
were admirers of his work and used many of his techniques.
All of that may be a rather loose peg on which to hang this generous
anthology of music of the period but it’s justified by some fine performances.
Richard Savino recounts how, having marvelled at the work of the Gentileschis
and Caravaggio, he wondered how it is that the art of the period attracts
vastly larger crowds than the music of the time. I must admit that
I wondered much the same when St John’s, Smith Square, was not much
more than half full for the Tallis Scholars’ wonderful 2000th
concert recently – review – when I had expected it to be packed to the rafters.
If only half the visitors to the Renaissance area of the National Gallery
that week had been there, I’m sure they would have appreciated the concert.
After all, the Gallery does its bit to encourage music by sponsoring
budget-price albums combining the art and music of various periods produced
in conjunction with EMI/Warner. The nearest they come to the period
of Artemisia Gentileschi is the inexpensive 2-CD set The Renaissance
of Italian Music, with Allegri, both Gabrielis, Monteverdi and Palestrina
El Mundo is a chamber group dedicated to the performance of sixteenth
to nineteenth century Latin American, Spanish and Italian chamber music.
Under the direction of guitarist/lutenist Richard Savino, it was formed
in 1999 and on the basis of this recording it’s one of today’s finest
This is the first recording that I have heard from them, but I quickly
ensured that it was not the only one and I hope that it won’t be my
last. There are earlier Sono Luminus albums of The Kingdoms of Castile
(DSL92131) and Salir el Amor del Mundo (Love leaves the World,
review). I downloaded the latter from 7digital.com,
where it’s available in 320kbs mp3 or m4a and it comes with the pdf
booklet with texts and translations – well done for adding that, 7digital.
There are slightly more singers on Salir el Amor than on the
new album but Jennifer Ellis Kampani and Nell Snaidas feature to great
effect on both, as does the bass Paul Shipper, who also plays baroque
guitar and percussion. Though the string accompaniment is minimalist,
there’s a sizeable and effective continuo contribution on the new CD.
I enjoyed both of these El Mundo recordings.
Apart from Monteverdi and, possibly, Caccini, composer of Euridice,
the first opera to appear in print, you may not recognise many of the
names but the music is all worth hearing. In view of the dramatic nature
of many of Gentileschi’s paintings and of Caravaggio’s life, it’s appropriate
that we begin and end with battle music, though both pieces represent
rather gentler conflicts than Biber’s La Battalia, Jordi Savall’s
recording of which has just been reissued with a glorious new recording
of the Missa Salisburgensis (Alia Vox AVSA9912 – review pending).
Though the booklet indicates that the recording was made in 5.1 and
7.1 surround, it doesn’t appear to be available on SACD and I haven’t
found a supplier for it in surround-sound downloads. The 24-bit download
from eclassical.com is at 24/192 – a large file, which takes a long
time to download. My DAC downsized that to 24/96 but it sounded very
With helpful notes, texts and translations and plenty of colour illustrations,
the booklet is something of a de luxe offering. It adds to the
enjoyment which I believe you will obtain from this recording and its
Prologue Marco UCCELINILa Gran Battaglia [3:37] Part 1 Rome: 1593-1614 Giovanni Girolamo KAPSBERGERL’onda che limpida Suite
[5:44] Corrente Sesta [1:12] Capona [2:29] Benedetto FERRARIAmanti [4:20] Giovanni Girolamo KAPSBERGERCanzona [2:40] Domenico MAZZOCCHIFolle Cor [3:28] Part 2: Florence 1614-1620 Marco GAGLIANOSinfonia [2:21] Francesca CACCINILasciatemi qui solo [5:26] Alessandro PICCINIToccata [1:35] Francesca CACCINIChi desia di saper [1:59] Part 3: Venice 1620-1630 Dario CASTELLOSonata Prima [4:32] Claudio MONTEVERDIEt è pur dunque vero [7:22] Come dolce hoggi l’auretta [3:20] Francesco CORBETTASinfonia a due [3:40] Part 4: Naples 1630-1638 Andrea FALCONIERISinfonia detta la buon’hora [2:14] Luigi ROSSIOcchi belli [3:01] Andrea FALCONIERIFolia echa para mi Señora Doña Tarolilla
di Carallenos [4:34] Pietro GIRAMOFesta Riso [1:49] Part 4: London 1638-1642 Nicholas LANIERSymphonia in G [1:32]
No More Shall Meads be Deck’d with Flow’rs [3:35]
Thou I Am Young [1:58] Epilogue Luigi ROSSIFan battaglia [3:17]