This disc brings together a collection of vocal works from 17th-century Italian convents – music that is given another dimension thanks to the fact that its primary function was to aid worship. Led by the liturgy, the pieces were often based on prayers of celebration or lamentation, both of which feature prominently in the emotional rollercoaster that is Holy Week (the last week of Lent and the last week before Easter).
The works in this collection were written by a variety of composers – some dedicating their compositions to the nuns (incidentally, one of the most fascinating mysteries surrounding convent repertoire is the fact that these pieces often contain parts for tenor and bass voices – the nuns often resorted to numerous solutions to supplant the lack of male voices, including transposition of lower voices or entire pieces or the use of instruments) and numerous pieces written by the nuns themselves – such as Rosa Giacinta Badalla’s affecting Silentio. Several of the works combine voices with instrumental forces such as the viola da gamba, lirone, and baroque guitar. They are all performed by the acclaimed all-female ensemble Cappella Artimisia, founded in 1991 and which has received critical and popular praise both for the rarity and originality of its repertoire.
- A fascinating collection of vocal works which were written for use during the Holy Week (the week preceding Easter) in Italian convents in the 17th century, recorded in the convent of Santa Margherita in Bologna.
- Apart from liturgical works connected with the Holy Week this programme presents compositions by Italian composers and by the nuns which express the specific emotions of this important period in the Liturgical year: from the bewailing of the crucified Christ on Good Friday to the ecstatic joy of the resurrection on Easter Day.
- Sung with true feeling and devotion by the female choir Cappella Artimisia and a rich instrumental ensemble of Viola da Gamba, harp, cello, guitar, harpsichord, lirone, organ and traverse flutes.
- The organist plays the 1712 Traeri church organ built by Traeri in 1712 (restored by Marco Fratti in 1991–92), Convent of Santa Margherita, Bologna.
- Booklet contains extensive liner notes. The sung texts are available by clicking ‘DOWNLOAD BOOKLET’ on this page.