WORKS: Opera ottava; arias & cantatas
PERFORMER: La Risonanza/Fabio Bonizzoni (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 921503
Barbara Strozzi’s Op. 8, published in Venice in 1664, is her last known work. Like several of her previous collections, it comprises arias and cantatas for solo soprano, many of them the lovelorn laments that were a favourite at the time. But Strozzi, always a highly individual composer, continued to experiment with her settings, and Op. 8 includes two outstanding examples of her originality. The beautiful Serenata con violini, ‘Hor che Apollo’, is unique in her oeuvre for the use of two violins to provide a richly evocative instrumental ritornello after each section of text. And the cantata L’Astratto. Voglio sì vò cantar is both unusual and cleverly self-mocking in its incorporation of several different laments, which the performer/lover sings – and rejects – as he tries to ease his heartbreak with music.
This disc of selections from Op. 8 includes both of these works, plus other notable pieces, such as the lovely extended aria ‘Luci belle’. Emanuela Galli sings well, if a touch too earnestly, often missing
the more playful, sensuous and flamboyant currents in Strozzi’s music. Certainly the Serenata here
is less expressive than the beguiling version by Susanne Rydén, whose excellent Harmonia Mundi disc remains the benchmark for Strozzi recordings. Graham Lock