The repertoire featured on this disc features material that might have been performed by a convent choir in the 1570’s, in the Ferrara area. Both Palestrina and de Rore were celebrated in their lifetimes as two of the greatest composers in Italy, and both were strongly connected to the d’Este family, the rulers of Ferrara in 16th century.
Most of the chants here presented are no longer regularly performed – but nevertheless are some of the most beautiful and haunting melodies to be found in the chant repertoire.
The booklet contains full tests, extensive notes and a foreword by Sarah Dunant, author of the novel “Sacred Hearts”, just published by Virago/Random House. The novel is set entirely within a Benedictine convent in 16th Century Ferrara.
Musica Secreta were formed nearly twenty years ago to explore the music sung by courtly women and courtesans of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Over time, they expanded this to include music that might have been performed by Renaissance nuns – and indeed in monasteries also. They are at the forefront of performance practice research in this repertoire. Their last release, “Motetti a Cinque Voce” by Alessandro Grandi (DDA25062) received high praise.
Formed in 2003, Celestial Sirens is a select, non-professional female choir committed to the performance of choral works in the style of Renaissance and early modern convents.
“The Mass sounds both natural and beautiful; indeed the whole piece is an aural feast. The last item is Rore's Regina caeli laetare, Frances Kelly's harp weaving round the soprano line. Magical.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2009