Archive for barberini harp

Bringing “The Rebel Queen,” Armonia Celeste’s second recording, to life

Posted in Programs and repertoire, Recordings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2015 by armoniaceleste
Queen Christina as Minerva Unknown artist, 1700s

Queen Christina as Minerva
Unknown artist

As you may recall, Armonia Celeste recorded its second CD last fall.

Sarah, Dianna, Rebecca, Lyle, and Paula convened in Silver Spring, Maryland, to make the recording. An all-star cast was brought in to help: UK-based producer Malcolm Bruno oversaw the festivities, and guest artists Cynthia Roberts and Madeline Adkins on baroque violin and Allen Whear on baroque cello supplied bowed-string color (and brilliant panache) on a couple of the selections.

The ensemble was able to record all the music, but must raise money to finish the editing and post-production processes before the recording can be submitted to the record label for distribution. (Yes, in these dark days of the music industry, musicians must fund the costs of their recordings on their own.)

Armonia Celeste needs your help to raise $6000 by August 2 in order to finish this historically and musicologically important recording and release it to the public.

And what wonderful music comprises this CD? Music from the chapels and courts of Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-1689), who was enamored of Italian musical, religious, and political culture–so much so that she abdicated the Swedish throne and moved to Rome to set up court, where she patronized the finest composers and performers of her time. Armonia Celeste’s The Rebel Queen features haunting sacred and stirring secular music from such musical lights of the era as Mazzocchi, Rossi, Carissimi, Pasquini, and the harpist-singer Marazzoli, exquisitely sung with the ensemble’s signature blend, and accompanied with verve and style on period instruments.

drottning kristina igen

“King Christina” with sword and crown, 1650. 18th-century copy after the lost original by David Beck

By all accounts, Queen Christina of Sweden was a strong-willed, mischief-making, and rule-breaking woman. Her shocking exploits included cutting her hair short, wearing men’s clothing, and chatting flippantly with common merchants and beggars. We delve more into her mold-breaking character and remarkable life here and in the video below.

You’ll also hear a preview track from the album: La Corista by Lelio Colista, featuring our guest artists on bowed strings and Lyle and Paula on plucked-string continuo (theorbo and baroque triple harp).

Have a look and a listen to the delights that await you and the 21st-century audience if Armonia Celeste succeeds (with your help) in bringing this recording to the public! As always…many thanks for your support.

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Recording a new CD

Posted in Recordings with tags , , , , , , , on November 2, 2014 by armoniaceleste

There are major differences in recording an album versus performing the same program live. The amount of focus, stamina, and energy needed to capture everything on recording (which is, let’s face it, FOREVER) is really hard to sustain. The only way to deal with it is to just do it…hopefully more than once! That was my attitude going into recording The Rebel Queen album with Armonia Celeste this month. I was looking forward to the recording process now that we had already been through it together as a group for the Udite Amanti album. We made it through that experience with flying colors, and I was eager to see what would happen this time.

Di and the Barberini harp in position as the mics are being set up

Di and the Barberini harp in position as the mics are being set up

Well, what happened is even more polished, expressive, and (if I do say so myself) impressive singing and playing than even I was anticipating. I am constantly humbled and honored working with such fantastic musicians!

recording Christina 2

View from the control booth as Armonia Celeste lays down an ensemble track

The music on The Rebel Queen is extremely special. Every piece is very personal to the members of the group, and we have spent a long time honing the repertoire and narrowing it down to the strongest, most varied, and most moving pieces. One of my personal favorites on the album is “Memento homo. Anima peccatrice” by Marazzoli. This is a piece that is full of chromatic, almost shocking harmonies—things like unresolved suspensions just hanging in midair, cluster chords between the three voices for whole measures at a time, odd dissonances and cross relations–as well as rangy, dramatic solos, all serving the purpose of portraying the text, which is a fervent plea for sinful man to repent and be transformed by God. Other favorite pieces on this album include Sarah’s exciting and flashy piece entitled “Sdegno” (Disdain!) by Rossi, Rebecca’s dramatic “Circondata di mali” from the opera La vita humana by Marazzoli, and the hauntingly beautiful “Benedictus Deus” by Carissimi featuring the complete ensemble.

All in all, it was an exciting week of intense music making! I’m already looking forward to the next Armonia Celeste recording project…

–Dianna Grabowski, mezzo soprano, Armonia Celeste

singers recording Christina

L-R: Dianna, Rebecca, and Sarah record the a cappella trio sections from Marazzoli’s “Memento homo. Anima peccatrice”

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