Dialoghi a voce sola: Italian music of the 17th century

Ulrike Hofbauer, Ensemble &cetera
71:53
Raumklang RK 3306
Music by Berti, Carissimi, Castaldi, Ferrari, Frescobaldi, Huygens, D’India, de Macque, Mayone, Mazzocchi, Merula, Nauwach, Orlandi, Rasi, Luigi Rossi, Barbara Strozzi & Trabaci

This CD takes us on a tour of the rich 17th-century Italian repertoire for solo voice and continuo. The success or failure of such an enterprise relies heavily on the prowess of the soloist, and Ulrike Hofbauer has a lovely voice and a ready sense of the drama inherent in the music she is singing. She is helped considerably here by a small but inspired consort of instruments consisting of arpa doppia, chitarrone and lirone alternating with a treble viol. They come into their own in the lovely instrumental works which punctuate the programme and which they play with a wonderful freedom and spon-taneity. These are qualities which they also bring to their accompanying, allowing them to respond appropriately to Hofbauer’s creative interpretation of the vocal lines. The programme note addresses the rather oxymoronic title of the CD by explaining that the voice is in dialogue with the listener, and certainly this is a recording which demands your undivided attention and, with its constantly changing colours and moods, fully earns it. All the big names of the period are here – Trabaci, Carissimi, Gastoldi, Frescobaldi, Strozzi, D’India, Merula and Luigi Rossi – but the performers have looked beyond the obvious to the less familiar and have included works by the likes of Camillo Orlandi, Giovanni Pietro Berti and Giovanni de Macque. Accounts of the singing of the 17th-century Roman soprano Leonora Baroni suggest that she augmented her singing with gestures and appropriate movements like an opera singer, and listening to this music it is easy to imagine such dramatization working extremely effectively.

D. James Ross