Isabella Leonarda

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COMPOSERS: Isabella Leonarda
LABELS: Opus 111
WORKS: Sonatas, Op. 16/3, 9 & 12; Salve regina, Op. 11/12; Magnificat, Op. 19/10; Beatus vir, Op. 19/4
PERFORMER: Loredana Bacchetta (soprano), Caterina Calvi (contralto), Gianluca Ferrarini (tenor), Luca Ferracin (bass); Gruppo Vocale Musica Laudantes, Cappella Strumentale del Duomo di Novara
Few readers will have the music of Isabella Leonarda in their collection. She was a 17th-century Italian composer from the Piedmont, and mother superior of the convent of St Ursula at Novara – hence the disc’s title, ‘La musa novarese’. During her life she published as many as 20 collections of her music, most of it vocal, and in small motet form. One set only of instrumental pieces was printed in 1693; it contains sonatas in one to four parts, and three of these are included on this disc. Though attractive and, on occasion, individual – the Sonata terza provides a good example both of an eloquent melodic gift and a fluency with counterpoint – it is perhaps the vocal pieces which hold greater interest. Among the loveliest is the lyrical ‘Ave suavis dilectio’ for soprano, violins and continuo. But I enjoyed all of this programme which is mostly well played and sung. A fascinating addition to this label’s enterprising survey, ‘Treasures of Piedmont’. Nicholas Anderson