Engaging performances of Barbara Strozzi by Aurata Fonte

Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677) was a remarkable woman. This talented Venetian was a renowned singer and composer.

She hosted gatherings in her father’s house for the city’s intellectuals and artists. This was her venue for performing. But she’s known today for something else — her music.

Strozzi published eight collections of vocal music between 1644 and 1664. This release features her Opus 5, Sacri musicali affetti.

It’s a collection of sacred motets for solo voice. Presumably, these works were first heard at gatherings in the Strozzi residence.

Strozzi’s style resembles Claudio Monteverdi. The melodies are always in service of the text. If the words suggest a downward motion, the melody descends. If the text suggests agitation, the melody skips around in a disjointed fashion, and so on. And yet they’re still melodies of great beauty — even for those of us who don’t know Italian.

The Aurata Fonte gives these works the close, intimate sound they deserve. Just a few instruments provide the basso continuo (bass and harmonies). What carries these works are the artistry of the singers.

Sopranos Miho Kamiya and Anna Simboli are masters of the Baroque repertoire. Simboli has a rich, warm voice that sounds centered. Kamiya’s voice sounds lighter, and perhaps a little higher. Alto Andrew Arrivabene also sings two selections

The difference in vocal qualities makes for an effective program. There’s enough variety going from track to track to maintain interest. And the performance quality of all three singers is uniformly high.

Recommended to any lover of the Italian Baroque or early music in general.

Barbara Strozzi: Sacri Muicali Affetti
Opera Quinta, Venezia, 1655
Aurata Fonte
Tactus TC 611990
2 CD Set

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