Rossi Le Canterine Romane
The lyrical and dramatic potential of two or more singing ladies was not lost on the cognoscenti of the new monodic age. Luzzascio Luzzaschi's famous Madrigali published in 1601, belatedly exposed some of the secret repertoire of the d'Este's exclusive and jealously guarded Concerto delle Dame but for several years rumours of Ferraran activities had given composers food for thought. By the time Le Canterine Romane were captivating their audiences 40 years later, opera was in the ascendancy and the solo singer had become public property. Andreana Basile, the eldest of this distinguished Roman musical trio, was one such beneficiary of new bel canto adoration. She toured all the great Italian courts, admired by each in turn, until she signed up for Mantua having secured an attractive contract with all the trappings of fame. Of her two daughters, Leonora accepted the prime mantle to continue the family name for vocal and cultural excellence. She was, if anything, even better and certainly by the time they moved to Rome in 1633 ''L'Adrianetta'', as she became known, had stolen her mother's thunder. There seems to have been no jealousy since they worked closely together displaying their singular and corporate beauty, as observed by such luminaries as Milton and Andre Maugars. The latter described a concert as having ''transported me into such ravishment, that I forgot my mortal condition and believed myself to be among the angels''. The last of the three, Catarina, like her mother, was a fine instrumentalist as well as a singer.
The connection on this disc between the three Roman ladies and Luigi Rossi is somewhat tenuous, though it is speculation of the most imaginative and creative kind which does nothing but generate deserved attention towards a seriously good Italian baroque composer and a legendary musical family. Rossi's ''engagingly fresh and uncomplicated melodic syle'' was noted by IF in his review of the composer's opera, Orfeo, under William Christie (3/92). The cantatas are equally or further endowed with such quality. The successful juxtaposition of declamatory and reflective forms within a single piece is seized upon by Tragicomedia with no holes barred: each of le canterine here communicate the passionate sentiments of the text with brightly projected and expressive performances, committed and sensitively coloured. Ensemble is not always spot-on but I would not have mentioned it without intending this to be a back-handed compliment to their 'safety last' policy which characterizes these highly spontaneous and musical performances. Full credit should go to the continuo players whose battery of instruments and deft execution lend a rich and varied palette to the vocalizing. There are many fine, little-known pieces here but Noi siam tre donzellette semplicette has enough in it to fill at least an opera act. Generously filled at 77'50''.'