Musica Secreta - Dangerous Graces: Music by Cipriano de Rore and pupils - HMV Choice
Musica Secreta are a group of authentic early music performers charged with recreating the unique sound made by the all-female 'concerto di donne' who performed at the court of the Duke Alfonso Il d'Este at Ferrara and Parma in the 16th century. It seems that the Duke was particularly partial to the female voice and scoured the region for virtuosi singers and musicians to entertain his guests for up to six hours a night. The performances resembled an early form of cabaret with the ladies putting on a mutual display of accomplishment while the guests played cards, ate, drank and indulged in noisy conversation.
Dangerous Graces draws on the ensembles' core repertoire; the madrigals of Flemish composer Cipriano de Rore and his pupils in which the poetic text is declaimed with florid vocal ornamentation to a sparse chordal accompaniment. For this recording the core septet are joined by soprano Emily van Evera, bass singer Richard Wistreich and viol player Mark Levy who make it clear from the first note that this is more than an arid academic exercise. A most aristocratic entertainment.