Gramophone | July 2016 | The Secret Lover

<back to NEWS

TENET: The Secret Lover

By Alexandra Coghlan,  Gramophone 

Founded in 1580 by the Duke of Ferrara, the Concerto delle Donne was an institution that revolutionised women’s role in music-making. For the first time an all-female ensemble had a professional position in secular society and an outlet for their virtuoso talents. On ‘The Secret Lover’, American early music ensemble Tenet pay homage to their musical ancestresses in a programme of music by Strozzi, Kapsberger, Caccini and Rossi.

Tenet’s artistic director, soprano Jolle Greenleaf, is joined here by soprano Molly Quinn, mezzo Virginia Warnken and a variety of instrumentalists for a programme that has all the intimacy and seductive charm of the drawing room. These aren’t big voices: the interest is all in the nuance of tone and the subtlety of the vocal rhetoric of the often impassioned texts. Francesca Caccini’s ‘Dispiegate gauncie amate’ prompts a delicious variety of voice-distorting effects, and Strozzi’s ‘L’amante segreto’ – the most extended work on the album – is an episodic drama-in-miniature that’s beautifully varied and handled. But too often you want just a bit more tone colour, a bit more Italianate abandon from these very correct early music performers.

The voices are at their best in three-part writing, whether in the playful exchanges of Luigi Rossi’s pulsing ‘Fan battaglia’, Strozzi’s more lyrical ‘Le tre Grazie a Venere’ or the overt sensuality of the anonymous ‘Passacalli della vita’, in which the three voices glide among one another, occasionally meeting for a deliciously prolonged and suggestive suspension.

The instrumental numbers are wonderful thoughout, from the simplicity of Kapsberger’s self-titled little song or his brief ‘Capona’ to the outlandish chromaticisms of Michelangelo Rossi’s Toccata for harpsichord, performed with dexterity by Jeffrey Grossman. Taken as a whole, ‘The Secret Lover’ is a nicely judged recital programme, offering more than enough textural variety to compensate for the slightly contained performances.

<back to NEWS

Beth Beauchamp

Having worked as a professional musician, a music-educator, and the Executive Director of a number of non-profit arts organizations, Beth has over 10 years of experience in catering to the unique needs of artists. Beth believes that the talent, education, and skill-sets of her clients have inherent worth. As a passionate artist advocate, she aims to help her artists improve the quality of their own lives by encouraging them to honor the value of their own work, and by creating materials which allow them to champion their art with confidence. Equally interested in building community, Beth aims to create a roster of artists who are excited to support and collaborate together.