COMPOSERS: Kapsberger,Luigi Rossi &Landi,Mazzocchi,Michi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Splendore Di Roma
WORKS: Works by Kapsberger, Mazzocchi, Michi, Luigi Rossi &Landi
PERFORMER: Johannette Zomer (soprano)Fred Jacobs (theorbo)
CATALOGUE NO: CCS 19998
This is a rare and privileged glimpse into the private world of early 17th-century Roman society where women could perform, not in public, but in the apartments of ecclesiastical nobles and elite ‘academies’. Johannette Zomer brings to 14 arias a remarkably versatile voice: her very first note a desolate white sound, then vibrato is subtly varied in width and speed as a string-player colours notes. She’s artful with timbre too, creating an expressive range from simple naive joy, through ardent passion to hollow despair.
The literal English translations are an essential aid to listening in music so indissolubly married to words; every nuance of meaning is illustrated, from swirling birds to broken hearts – of which there are many. Fred Jacobs’s theorbo accompaniment includes some stunning harmonic tensions in his realisations of the skeletal figured bass – scholarship bringing performance to life.
High points include one of the innumerable ‘Dido laments’ of the period and, in contrast, a strophic song over a cleverly contrived teasing metre (with, for some unexplained reason, three verses omitted). Jacobs also contributes five contrasting solo pieces, all by Johann Hieronymus Kapsberger.
Such an intimate recording picks up moments of hardness in Zomer’s voice, and Jacobs’s fingers hiss along the strings. Otherwise, highly commended – both for performance and for revealing new repertoire. George Pratt