COMPOSERS: Alessandro Della Ciaia
ALBUM TITLE: Della Ciaia
WORKS: Lamentationi; plus works by Bernia, M Galilei and Saracini
PERFORMER: Roberta Invernizzi (soprano); Laboratorio ’600
CATALOGUE NO: Glossa GCD 922903
The poetic imagery of the Lamentations of Jeremiah – allegorical expressions of grief and desolation – has inspired some of the most haunting vocal music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, notably the perfumed settings by Couperin and Charpentier. Equally powerful are these unknown mid-17th century Lamentationi by the Sienese nobleman Alessandro della Ciaia – a dilettante instrumentalist and composer of no mean talent. Their ornate writing for solo voice with continuo prefigures the French models by several decades.
Originally sung by nuns in a Sienese convent, the music is introspective yet highly expressive. Melismatic vocalisations create fumaroles of sound; dissonance, chromaticism and striking harmonic shifts paint the plaintive texts, while moments of austere scoring and silence highlight the underlying theme of solitude.
Roberta Invernizzi has the pliancy and expansive range necessary for these intricate settings with their two-octave breadth, though her voluptuous soprano is far more sensual than chaste. She’s most sensitively accompanied by the continuo players of Laboratorio ’600, who interlace the Lamentations with instrumental Toccatas reflecting the penitential mood. There are chromatic and experimental pieces by shadowy composers such as Claudio Saracini (whom Monteverdi admired), Vincenzo Bernia, and the lutenist Michelagnolo Galilei, brother of the great astronomer. The disc is a revelation.