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GRAMOPHONE (12/2014)
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Reviewer:  David Vickers

Romina Basso collaborates with the Greek continuo trio Latinitas Nostra in this curate’s egg of laments by Italian composers of the seicento. I’m not too sure about the Middle Eastern viola da gamba improvisation that launches Lagrime mie by Venetian noblewoman Barbara Strozzi (a pupil of Cavalli), but Basso sings with emotional virtuosity in an intensely plangent performance. A capriccio by Frescobaldi leads into Monteverdi’s famous lament from his otherwise lost 1608 opera Arianna, in which the performers settle down and let the sentimental rhetoric of the music speak for itself.


In other selections the continuo accompaniments tend to be characterised strongly, with some infrequent lapses into wildness. But there is no denying the instrumentalists are given a full rein to express themselves. This does not always benefit all of the music all of the time, but these works have been recorded to high standards before, so there are alternative approaches available for the faint-hearted. A softly arpeggiated toccata by Kapsberger introduces Rossi’s depiction of Queen Christina of Sweden’s anguish upon learning of the death of her husband, King Gustavus Adolphus, in the Battle of Lützen. The subject matter and style of Rossi’s lament is irreverently satirised in Squarciato appena avea, attributed inconclusively to Provenzale. Involving four additional singers, a violinist and a percussionist, this sly comical parody quoting bawdy folksongs serves as an engrossing endnote and antidote.
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