Archive for carissimi

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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September concert tour of the Midwest!

Posted in Concerts, Programs and repertoire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2012 by armoniaceleste

We are performing “Udite Amanti: Lovers, Beware! Music from the Seventeenth-Century Barberini Court,” our exciting program that has gotten audiences to their feet everywhere we’ve toured it. The concert explores the dangers of love in early baroque Italy, giving listeners a glimpse into a forgotten—yet strangely familiar—world.

In the Rome of the mid-1600s, the patronage of the powerful Barberini family engendered a period of great productivity within vocal chamber music and opera. The trios, duets, and solos—both instrumental and vocal—on this program represent the refinement of style that occurred in the Barberini court. Works of the Roman composers who were heard at this court or who served the Barberini family during the mid-seventeenth century are highlighted, with the music of Rossi, Carissimi, and Cesti (named by Perti in 1688 as “the three greatest lights of our profession”) serving as the centerpiece; other composers of the era such as Frescobaldi, Tenaglia, Marazzoli, and Pasqualini (one of the Barbarini castrati) are also represented.

To complete the historical picture, an exquisitely carved and gilded copy of the famous Barberini harp, made for this prestigious family ca. 1630, will be played for this program.

Further in-depth information on the composers and repertoire in this concert can be found here and here.

Please make sure you come back and say hello after the concert—we’d love to meet you!

 

Richmond, Indiana
Sunday, September 23, 2012  4:00 PM

Earlham College
Stout Meetinghouse
801 National Road West (US 40)
Richmond, IN 47374

Free admission

 

Cincinnati, Ohio
Tuesday, September 25, 2012   7:30 PM

Christ Church Cathedral
318 East Fourth Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202-4299

$15 general admission; $5 students/seniors; free to children age 12 and under.
Tickets available at the door

 

Columbus, Ohio
Early Music in Columbus
Friday, September 28, 2012, 8:00 pm
Pre-concert lecture  7:30 pm

Mees Hall
Capital University
1 College and Main
Columbus, OH 43209

Tickets $27 Regular, $22 Seniors (age 62 and over), $12 Students
Buy tickets

 

Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Academy of Early Music
Saturday, September 29, 2012  8:00 PM
Pre-Concert Lecture at 7:00 PM

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
306 N. Division Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

$20 General/$17 Members and Seniors/$5 Students
Buy tickets

 

Rochester, Michigan
Sunday, September 30, 2012  7:00 PM

Varner Recital Hall
Oakland University
Rochester, Michigan 48309

Tickets $14 general, $8 students
Buy tickets

 

Some background on our repertoire

Posted in Programs and repertoire with tags , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2012 by armoniaceleste

I have often been asked about the repertoire for Armonia Celeste and why we do this relatively unknown literature.  Actually, the answer is quite easy.  It is a fabulous and immense repertoire.  The wealth of material is sometimes almost overwhelming.  There are a number of high-level composers attached to the courts of Italy, especially the Barberini palaces. This includes people like Luigi Rossi, Mario Savioni, Marc’Antonio Pasqualini, Giacomo Carissimi, and Marco Marazzoli.

For example, Marazzoli has 379 cantatas extant, plus a raft of operas and oratorios.  Luigi Rossi has a similar amount, and cantatas from other composers number hundreds more.   These numbers just highlight the secular music.  When one adds in the sacred music by Carissimi, Foggia, and others, the music potentials become vast.  These numbers are basically only in Rome; adding the rest of Europe, the numbers grow even more.

Lutes, baroque guitar, and a small baroque triple harp

This is huge repertoire, but numbers only mean something if they are balanced by the quality of the music.  This is true in this repertoire.  The basic form is the cantata, not the 18th century style of Bach and others, but the emotional, secular style of the 17th century.  There is a large variety of styles and forces with numbers of high quality and interesting pieces.  Though the greatest share of them are for solo voice, primarily soprano, there are a number of duos, trios and even quartets.  This works well for Armonia Celeste.  Our three singers all have quite different and unique types of voices and styles; this allows a better fit to these different styles and ranges.  Mixing and matching these voices and styles into duets and trios makes for a more interesting program as well.

The instrumentalists of Armonia Celeste also add to the variety and match the different styles of composition.  Two of the primary continuo instruments, baroque triple harp and theorbo, are used for the bulk of the continuo realization, but different lutes and guitar can also be called upon when the need arises. The accompaniment of the harp must also have been common.  Marco Marazzoli was known as a harp player, and played the famed Barberini harp (of which our harpist plays a rare modern copy), and Luigi Rossi’s wife was also a virtuoso harpist.  Theorbo and lute players were common throughout Italy.  Kapsberger was even attached to the Barberini courts.

The ensemble of three women singers has a long history in Italy.  It started in the 1570’s with the “Concerto delle Donne” in Ferrara.  This ensemble became so famous that it was imitated in Modena, Florence (under Caccini), and other courts.  Though trios were still performed in the 17th century by women, the castrati also became primary singers.  Several of them were associated with the operas and other music of the courts, and it became natural for them to sing in the princely chambers when opera was not being performed.

This is the basis for the music for Armonia Celeste. Unfortunately, only a small amount of this repertoire is available in modern editions.  We are still combing the many manuscripts and prints of the time to bring some of these jewels to the 21st century.  This is part of the fun, recreating an exciting era of music for our audiences.

–Lyle

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