Parla, canta, respira

Barbara Strozzi | Eri De Luca
Lise Viricel, Peter de Laurentiis, Le Stelle
Seuletoile SE 02

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This Seuletoile CD combines music by Barbara Strozzi with poetry by contemporary Italian novelist and poet Eri De Luca. The accounts of Strozzi’s songs by Lise Viricel and the instrumentalists of Le Stelle under her direction are exquisite – unhurried, thoughtful, beautifully expressive and musically delicious. The instruments used include harp, lirone, gamba, organ, violin, cornet, sackbuts and bassoon, which create a wonderfully varied palette of timbres, and occasionally for further variety they give us instrumental renditions of Strozzi’s music. I think it important that the vocalist directs the instrumental ensemble, as Strozzi herself would surely have done, as this leads to a stunning level of integration. I found the subtle contribution of the wind instruments most persuasive – too often they are limited to bombastic music of this period, but the wind players of Le Stelle demonstrate that they can be as expressive and tasteful as viols when accompanying the voice. Peter de Laurentiis’ accounts of De Luca’s poetry, evidently praising the attributes of beautiful women, complement the music perfectly, Italian being such a musical language that he could be reading out the Neapolitan phone book. I say this, as the CD notes and texts appear only in French and Italian, of neither of which can I claim any degree of mastery. Ultimately the main strength of this delightful CD is the voice of Lise Viricel and the wonderfully responsive accompaniment of the musicians of Le Stelle.

D. James Ross

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