There are major differences in recording an album versus performing the same program live. The amount of focus, stamina, and energy needed to capture everything on recording (which is, let’s face it, FOREVER) is really hard to sustain. The only way to deal with it is to just do it…hopefully more than once! That was my attitude going into recording The Rebel Queen album with Armonia Celeste this month. I was looking forward to the recording process now that we had already been through it together as a group for the Udite Amanti album. We made it through that experience with flying colors, and I was eager to see what would happen this time.
Di and the Barberini harp in position as the mics are being set up
Well, what happened is even more polished, expressive, and (if I do say so myself) impressive singing and playing than even I was anticipating. I am constantly humbled and honored working with such fantastic musicians!
View from the control booth as Armonia Celeste lays down an ensemble track
The music on The Rebel Queen is extremely special. Every piece is very personal to the members of the group, and we have spent a long time honing the repertoire and narrowing it down to the strongest, most varied, and most moving pieces. One of my personal favorites on the album is “Memento homo. Anima peccatrice” by Marazzoli. This is a piece that is full of chromatic, almost shocking harmonies—things like unresolved suspensions just hanging in midair, cluster chords between the three voices for whole measures at a time, odd dissonances and cross relations–as well as rangy, dramatic solos, all serving the purpose of portraying the text, which is a fervent plea for sinful man to repent and be transformed by God. Other favorite pieces on this album include Sarah’s exciting and flashy piece entitled “Sdegno” (Disdain!) by Rossi, Rebecca’s dramatic “Circondata di mali” from the opera La vita humana by Marazzoli, and the hauntingly beautiful “Benedictus Deus” by Carissimi featuring the complete ensemble.
All in all, it was an exciting week of intense music making! I’m already looking forward to the next Armonia Celeste recording project…
–Dianna Grabowski, mezzo soprano, Armonia Celeste
L-R: Dianna, Rebecca, and Sarah record the a cappella trio sections from Marazzoli’s “Memento homo. Anima peccatrice”