The programme on this disc consists of a selection of Italian 17th-centruy vocal duets and trios from the Whitelocke manuscript, with Carissimi’s large-scale cantata I Naviganti at its heart. These duets and trios form a kind of refined entertainment music for intimate occasions: emotionally charged, yet playful songs about love and passion intended for an aristocratic audience. The combination of simple yet elegant melodies and colourful, sometimes even bold, harmonies lends these songs a particular sweetness which is here brought out by a close-knit group of some of the finest performers in the field of period performance today, with Emma Kirkby, Peter Harvey, Susanne Rydén and Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann. They are joined by the Danish harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen, who also adds variety to the programme with instrumental solos by Frescobaldi.
“The vocal colours of Kirkby and her fellow soprano Susanne Rydén complement each other beautifully, while Peter Harvey’s resonant baritone and the countertenor Mikael Bellini add other shades.” Sunday Times, 14th November 2010 ****
“Harvey’s few contributions to the BIS disc, a collection of Italian vocal duets and trios from the court of the legendary 17th-century Queen Christina of Sweden, are wonderfully stylish, but the recital is dominated by the sopranos and Lars Ulrik Mortensen’s spirited harpsichord playing.” Financial Times, 26th November 2010 ***
“Many of the settings exploit the sensual intertwining of two soprano voices over a basso continuo...Emma Kirkby, dewy-voiced as ever, and Swedish soprano Susanne Rydén make exquisite partners, ever-sensitive to the music's subtle nuances and graceful ornamentation.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2011 ****
“[Kirkby, Rydén and Harvey], all specialists in the historically informed performance of Baroque music, have the light, brilliant, flexible voices necessary to do these lovely works full justice. Kirkby is warmer than the more crystalline-sounding and considerably younger Rydén, but she is no less agile and thus the two sopranos are a perfect match.” International Record Review, March 2011
“[Mortensen's] captivating harpsichord accompaniments also play a vital part in helping to share the appealing merits of refined miniatures such as Antonio Cesti's duet 'Già son morto'...Luigi Rossi's 'Dite o cieli' is sung by Kirkby and Harvey with marvellous lightness and I particularly admired Carissimi's trio I Naviganti.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2011