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Briefly Noted: Barbara Strozzi

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B. Strozzi, Arias and Cantatas, op. 8, E. Galli, La Risonanza, F. Bonizzoni

(re-released on July 29, 2014)
Glossa GCDC81503 | 72'01"
The historically informed performance ensemble La Risonanza was founded in 1995, but we reviewed them live for the first time in a concert at the Library of Congress only two years ago. It was one of the most successful American debuts in recent memory, earning a place on our list of that year's best concerts. They made this recording of the solo arias and cantatas by Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677) back in 2000, in Lugano, and it has finally been re-released this summer. It brings together all of the pieces in the Venetian composer's op. 8, published in 1664, the last of eight volumes of her compositions, published over the course of twenty years. The fact that Strozzi was that prolific, as Richard Taruskin wrote, "at a time when prejudice against the creative abilities of women ran high, bears impressive witness to her excellence as a composer in the eyes of her contemporaries." Her harmonic idiom is marked by the savoring of expressive dissonance, from carefully marshaled suspensions to occasionally hair-raising chromatic progressions. In these exceptionally beautiful performances, the voice of soprano Emanuela Galli is flexible, light, and pure, if just slightly brittle here and there. Director Fabio Bonizzoni provides expert leadership at the harpsichord, with varied continuo accompaniment from Caterina dell'Agnello on cello and Franco Pavan on theorbo or Baroque guitar. Two violinists, David Plantier and Elisa Citterio, take the plangent, interwoven obbligato lines in the serenata Hor che Apollo.

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