Pone spes in planctu amaro
During her 68 years at the Collegio di Sant'Orsola, Isabella Leonarda composed more than two hundred published works in twenty published collections. Born into minor nobility in Novara in 1620, she entered the Ursuline convent at the age of sixteen, rising to the office of Madre superior in 1686 and Madre vicaria in 1693 before her death in 1704. She is considered one of the most productive female composers of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Her approximately 100 solo motets combine technical virtuosity with a highly personal expression of religious fervor. The texts are frequently non-liturgical, rich in imagery and assumed to be written by Leonarda herself. They offer a fascinating insight into both Leonarda’s own deep and personified beliefs and the larger theological context of a 17th-century nunnery.
In spite of their musical quality, most of Leonarda’s works have not be re-performed in modern times, and only a handful have been recorded or published in modern editions. Contralto Julie Comparini and an ensemble of early music specialists present solo motets and violin sonatas by this virtuoso Baroque composer.
Julie Comparini, contralto
Wiebke Corßen and Julia Krikkay, violin
Jenny Westman, viola da gamba
Susanne Peuker, theorbo
Tobias Gravenhorst, harpsichord
Klaus Westermann, organ