52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
(currently suspended)


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Bruno Monteiro (violin)

Special Price and we are still delivering

Recordings of the Month


Feinberg Piano Sonatas

Schoenberg Violin Concerto

Early Keyboard

Nun Danket Alle Gott
Now Everyone Thanks God


Haydn Scottish Songs

Choral Music

Liszt Sonata

Renaissance Bohemia


Hahn Complete Songs

Piano Sonatas 6,7,8 Osborne

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Barbara STROZZI (1619-1677)
Passioni, Vizi & Virtu
Cantate: Ariette e Duetti op. 2 (1651)
Amor dormiglione
L’eraclito Amorosa [5.37]
Lilla Crudele ad onta d’amore [2.25]
Chiamata à nuovi Amori [2.49]
Tràle speranze e’l timore [2.51]
La Vendetta [2.46]
Il Romeo [ 2.52]
La sol fà, mi rè, dò [4.10]
La Travagliata [4.15]
Gita ò giorni dolente [9.49]
Begl’occhi, bel seno [4.14]
La Fanciulletta Semplice [2.56]
Costume de grandi [4.01]
L’Amante segreto [7.39]
L’Amante bugiardo [2.40]
L’Amante consolato [3.06]
Giusta negativa [3.56]
Alessandro PICCININI (1566-1638)
Toccata XIII [2.39]
Peggy Bélanger (soprano)
Consort Baroque Laurentia/Michel Angers
rec. Nomaglio (TO) San Salvatore, 2012

It's very interesting that one Pietro Strozzi composed a madrigal in 1579 for the wedding of Francesco de Medici and Bianca Cappella. It shows the beginnings of monody - an accompanied solo voice - and is sung by a character representing Night. The Strozzi family are quite intriguing and their story is worth looking into.

There were artists named Strozzi working in Florence in the late 15th century but a much later one, Bernardo Strozzi (1581-1644) was a prolific painter and a great painter of portraits. You can see some of his work in the National Gallery (London) but more especially he was active in Venice where his paintings can also be seen. He painted the often-seen portrait of Monteverdi as a distinguished elderly composer. He also painted Barbara looking a little dissolute, breasts uncovered, holding a gamba.

Significantly Barbara was born in Venice but her father seems, according to Michel Angers’ quite helpful notes, to have been one Guido Strozzi. Significantly for Barbara Guido had become Monteverdi’s sometime librettist and was also a significant poet. Barbara’s First book of Madrigals of 1644, her Op. 1, sets poetry by Guido who lived on until 1652. Surely there is an important family relationship between artist and poet.

Barbara may well have written her own texts for these seventeen pieces although many are written from the point of view of a man. It seems anyway that she was a wonderful performer even from a very young age. At 15 she was doted upon by some of the leading musicians of the day and when she was 18, in 1637, Guido “founded the ‘Academia degli Unisoni’ essentially to promote the young Barbara’s exceptional talents” (booklet notes). I wonder what she sang, perhaps it was Monteverdi’s solo madrigals, which seem to have been quite an influence. It may be that with other musicians it included the master’s Eighth Book ‘Madrigale guerrieri ed amorosi’ which came out the following year. I say this for no fanciful reason but because Barbara’s texts often have a love and war theme running through them. In La Vendetta she sings “Revenge is a sweet feeling / One ill turn deserves another / Taking revenge is a great delight”.

Her texts are extremely individualist. Let's take La sol fa me, re, do: “Because she sings, my wife / refuses to say yes or no but she still boasts of speaking with la sol fa me re do”. Then there's Chiamata a nuovi Amori which is translated colourfully in the booklet as “What the hell is that / so I must always love?”. Frustration, as opposed to the joy of a loving relationship is more the tenor of the texts but this leads to some wonderful melodies. The words are 'painted' with great care, to such an extent that the tempo, harmony, melody and rhythms will alter from verse to verse in most cases. A good example is La Travagliata: “Your niggard eyes, rescue / someone who is dying of grief”. Earlier ideas will return later or at the end and all styles available at the time are used. This includes examples of recitando, highlighted above in Pietro Strozzi’s madrigal. It's typical of the sort of music found in, say, Peri’s opera Eurydice, but she never dwells too long in one style.

The opening piece, Amor dormiglione, one of her most performed songs, does just that with a lively first verse in compound time followed by a slower second verse before the first returns.

She likes falling ground-basses as in the very moving section after the recitativic opening of L’eraclito Amoroso with its lovely melismatic writing. Indeed tunes are Strozzi’s success story and will often linger in the mind as much as Monteverdi’s Lamento della Ninfa.

Strozzi dedicates her book to her patrons Ferdinand III of Austria and Eleanor of Mantua-Nevers. Her lengthy cantata Gita ò giorni dolente talks about the painful effects on Austria of the bloody thirty years war.

There is also thrown in to the mix just one, typically virtuoso, ‘touch piece’ by Piccinini, a Bologna-based composer who may have known Barbara Strozzi.

I could listen to Peggy Bélanger for many an hour. She is very communicative and superbly captures the contrasting moods of Strozzi’s language. Her diction is used with expressive intent and is totally clear. She is mostly accompanied by Michel Angers on the theorbo but other colours are added pleasingly. Two recorders are played by Daniele Bragetti and Seiko Tanaka and the bass is often emphasised by Sabrina Preti on the gamba. Sometimes the instrumentation is altered during a song to suit the text or mood. So, the performances are ideal, the music memorable and texts are well translated. The recording, made in a north Italian church, is totally clear and well balanced. The CD comes in slim cardboard packaging and takes up little shelf room.

What’s stopping you buying it immediately?

Gary Higginson


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger