Music for a While: Baroque Melodies

Music for a While: Baroque Melodies

4.0 1
by Anne Sofie von Otter
Building on the success of her 1999 release, Lamenti, Anne Sofie von Otter returns to the early Baroque on Music for a While, further exploring the rich vocal repertoire from the era of Monteverdi, Purcell, and their 17th-century Italian and English contemporaries. While the earlier disc focused on the topos of the


Building on the success of her 1999 release, Lamenti, Anne Sofie von Otter returns to the early Baroque on Music for a While, further exploring the rich vocal repertoire from the era of Monteverdi, Purcell, and their 17th-century Italian and English contemporaries. While the earlier disc focused on the topos of the lament, a staple of Baroque opera and song, the present program is less narrowly aimed, drawing on songs and opera arias of varying emotional points of view, as well as a few enlivening instrumental selections sprinkled throughout the disc for good measure. Still, there's a place for Barbara Strozzi's "Udite, amanti," a beautiful ground-bass lament from one of the most remarkable women of the period and an unsung composer of rare ability. And similarly heartfelt is Dowland's gorgeous "In Darkness Let Me Dwell," in which tortured chromatic harmonies and a doleful melody underpin the dark mood of the poetry with the skill of a Schubert. On the other hand, "Amanti, io vi so dire," the disc opener from the unheralded composer Benedetto Ferrari, swings with jaunty good spirits and the popular dance rhythms of the day, and Von Otter responds in kind by coarsening her tone and adopting earthy pitch slides to match the bawdy and punning text. Arias from Giulio Caccini and Claudio Monteverdi draw purer tones and more finely spun melodic lines from the Swedish mezzo, as do songs from Purcell and further numbers from Dowland. Stylishly accompanied by Baroque guitar, lute, theorbo, and harpsichord, Music for a While is another winner from Von Otter that displays her elegant singing in a repertoire in which she is clearly at home. Let's hope it won't be too long a while before she returns again.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Allen Schrott
Anne-Sofie von Otter's Music for a While finds her diving into geographically diverse songs of the Baroque period with the same flair and joyful curiosity that animate all of her projects. She shows a refreshing willingness to change her vocal sound and technique to suit the task at hand, leaving whatever operatic ego she carries with her at the door. Not that her work here would ever be confused with that of an early music specialist: listeners with strong opinions on the "correct" sound for this music may find themselves unable to accept the obvious warmth, flexibility, and potential amplitude of von Otter's sumptuous pipes. But it would be hard to accuse her of approaching this music with anything but respect, love, and the clear intention to realize it on its own terms. Anything else is academic. The croony cooing, bent tones, and occasional chesty brashness of the opening track, Benedetto Ferrari's "Amanti, io vi so dire" (Lovers, I can tell you), should be enough to alert listeners that they're in for a different kind of Anne-Sofie experience; delivered over a danceable Baroque guitar ostinato (eventually joined by harpsichord and theorbo), it sets an amiable tone for the album. It also puts the energetic and finely textured playing of lutenist/theorbist Jakob Lindberg and harpsichordist Jory Vinikour on display; their inventive instrumental realizations are the sonic glue binding the entire album together. Among the solo instrumental selections they contribute, Giovanni Kapsberger's "Arpeggiata" stands out as particularly interesting, since it casts the theorbo in a very different light from that of its usual role as a basso continuo component. Overall the album succeeds well on its own terms, although the Dowland songs and some of the Purcell selections sound too easygoing, too emotionally uncomplicated. The intimacy is present, but the intensity is often missing, undercut by the deliberately scaled down nature of von Otter's delivery. But her sense of phrasing and general affect is spot on, as is her English diction.
New York Times - Anne Midgette
Ms. von Otter bites into her program with a manic take on Benedetto Ferrari's "Amanti, Io Vi So Dire" ("Lovers, I Can Tell You"), singing with a crazy, rough decadence that feels true to the period.... She also shows dark, round operatic power, in Barbara Strozzi's "Udite, Amanti" ("Hear, Lovers"), and all the sweet, heavy promise of Purcell's "Sweeter Than Roses".... Carefully planned, with instrumental solos providing transitions, this is an eminently satisfying journey.
Gramophone - David Vickers
The Dowland selection is certainly the finest aspect of this disc, and shows one of our greatest modern singers still at the peak of her art.

Product Details

Release Date:
Archiv Prod Import


  1. Amanti, io vi so dire, for voice & continuo
  2. Arie musicali Bk.1 No.15, Se l'aura spira, in 3 sections for solo voice
  3. Dovrò dunque morire
  4. Ecco di dolci raggi, madrigal for tenor (from Scherzi musicali), SV 249/1
  5. Quel sguardo sdegnosetto, madrigal for soprano (from Scherzi musicali), SV 247/1
  6. Capona (Intavolatura di chitarrone, Book 4)
  7. L'incoronazione di Poppea, opera in 3 acts, SV 308: Adagiati, Poppea
  8. Udite, amanti, for voice & continuo
  9. Ciaccona
  10. Saraband for harpsichord in A minor, Z. 654
  11. Pausanias, the Betrayer of his Country, incidental music, Z. 585: Sweeter than roses
  12. The Tempest, or, The Enchanted Island, semi-opera, Z. 631: Dear, pretty youth
  13. Oedipus, incidental music, Z. 583: Music for a while
  14. Rule a Wife and Have a Wife, incidental music, Z. 587: There's not a swain
  15. Now that the sun hath veiled his light, sacred song for soprano & continuo, Z. 193
  16. Arpegiatta
  17. In darkness let me dwell, for voice, lute & bass viol (A Pilgrimes Solace)
  18. Can she excuse my wrongs, for 4 voices & lute (First Book of Songs)
  19. Weep you no more, sad fountains, for 4 voices & lute (Third Book of Songs)
  20. What if I never speed?, for 4 voices & lute (Third Book of Songs)
  21. Fantasie for lute

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Music for a While: Baroque Melodies 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago