The Concerto delle Donne specializes in the Italian vocal repertoire of the late 16th and early 17th
centuries. The three principal sopranos that perform
in the group, all early music experts, collaborate with six other sopranos,
as well as the organ mentioned above, to present various Office motets and
antiphons composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Jean-Baptiste Lully
(1632-1687), Nicholas-Antoine Lebegue (c. 1631-1702), and Guillaume-Gabriel
Nivers (c. 1632-1714), all composed for various feasts and services related
to the Virgin Mary. The 16 pieces on the CD are
subdivided into various topics, such as Queen of Heaven, The Birth of the
Virgin, The Salutation, The Nativity of Christ, A Prayer to the Virgin, The
Passion, The Resurrection, and The Coronation of the Virgin.
The sequence "Stabat mater pour les religieuses" by Charpentier was
especially exquisite in its polyphonic rendering. This contrasted nicely
with some of the motets, such as "Sicut spina rosam" and "Gaude felix
Anna," where only two sopranos would perform.
The sound quality on this CD is absolutely fantastic, as is the
singing. The organ continuo on some of the pieces
provides a spectacular effect that can only be produced in a
cathedral-performance setting. Lovers of French
Baroque music will need to include this CD in their collection.
Dr. Brad Eden
University of Nevada, Las Vegas