A Portrait of Isabella Leonarda
Suor Isabella Leonarda (6 September, 1620-25 February, 1704), the so-called Muse of Novara, was the most prolific ol all women composers in the 17th century, both inside and outside of cloistered walls. She entered the Collegio di S. Orsola at the age of 16, and remained there for 68 years, serving in all capacities within the convent hierarchy. She published no fewer than 20 collections of motets and other sacred music, nearly 200 compositions spanning virtually every genre of sacred music of her time: Masses, Vesper Psalms, motets in Latin and Italian for 1-4 voices with and without violins, and a collection of sonatas for 1 and 2 violins that stands as one of the only complete collection of instrumental works by a Italian woman at the time. The ten pieces on this recording range from solo motets to large-scale works performed by eight voices and seven instruments.
Cappella Artemisia pays tribute to this remarkable woman whose vast production is still largely and unjustly unknown.