Gramophone | July 2016 | The Secret Lover

Gramophone | July 2016 | The Secret Lover

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.

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Early Music Review | April 2016 | The Secret Lover

Early Music Review | April 2016 | The Secret Lover

There are 18 items here, nos 1, 4, 7, 9, 14 & 16 being instrumental. It is an excellent anthology, mostly from the first half of the 17th century, though the earliest is Diego Ortiz from 1553, the ground bass surviving well into the 17th century. The music is more-or-less equally divided between the voices, and they sound well. Barbara Strozzi is the outstanding composer, with support from Caccini, d’India, Luigi Rossi and Mazzocchi. Do buy it.

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The Irish Times | 3/23/2016 | The Secret Lover

The Irish Times | 3/23/2016 | The Secret Lover

New York’s Tenet ensemble here celebrates “music by, for and about women” in the context of the concerto delle donne, a virtuosic female vocal trio established by Duke Alfonso II of Ferrara in 1580.

The music of Barbara Strozzi and Francesca Caccini (credited as the first woman to write an opera) here rubs shoulders with the work of their male contemporaries, with the 21st-century compositional voice of Caroline Shaw providing a link across the centuries.

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