LUCREZIA BORGIA'S DAUGHTER: PRINCESS, NUN AND MUSICIAN – coming soon

Obsidian Records is pleased to announce a new collaboration with Musica Secreta and Celestial Sirens.

Far from being silent, Renaissance convents were among the most active musical institutions in Europe. In this ground-breaking CD, Musica Secreta delves into the mysterious world of early sixteenth-century convent music.

The discovery of anonymous motets in a book entitled Musica quinque vocum motteta materna lingua vocata (1543) has pushed back the date of the earliest known polyphonic music for convents by 50 years. The book also raises tantalising  questions about the motets' authorship.

New research suggests that some of these motets were composed by the abbess of the convent of Corpus Domini in Ferrara, Suor Eleanora d'Este, a woman of prodigious musical skill with a unique lineage. She was the daughter of Lucrezia Borgia, a woman cast by popular history as a notorious femme fatale; often portrayed as beautiful and power-hungry, Lucrezia was married to a succession of wealthy men. The convent offered a very different way of life for her only daughter, however, and these unique motets offer a vision of the 16th century convent as a place for religious celebration, contemplation and exceptional music-making.

These motets were recorded for the first time this summer for Obsidian records, performed by Musica Secreta and Celestial Sirens and directed by Laurie Stras and Deborah Roberts. The record is currently in post-production and will be released in early 2017.
Anne Boleyn is without doubt the most famous of Henry VIII’s six wives. She was brought up for a time under the guardianship of Margaret of Austria, who was patron to some of the most famous composers in all of Europe, and then in the French court before her return to England in 1522. It was in France where the young Anne developed her keen musical tastes, and when a collection of her favourite works began to be assembled into what is now known as the Anne Boleyn Songbook (Royal College of Music, MS 1070). The book probably remained in her possession until her execution in 1536, when she was accused of adultery with no less than five men including her own brother, George, and lutenist Mark Smeaton.
 
Here Alamire explores the finest works in the Songbook by the greatest composers of the early 16th century, including Compère, Brumel, Mouton, and Josquin. Performances by Alamire are interspersed with French chansons and instrumental items for lute, harp and voice. The programme concludes with a most haunting setting of ‘O Deathe rock me asleep’, not from the Songbook but possibly linked to Anne’s fate while awaiting her execution in the Tower of London.
           
Alamire and Obsidian Records are most grateful to our Project Patron, Mrs Patricia Brown, for her generous financial support.
The Spy's Choirbook wins Gramophone award
 
Obsidian's Records release, The Spy's Choirbook has triumphed at the Gramophone Magazine Classical Music Awards 2015 winning the award for best Early Music disc.
 
Founder of Alamire, Dr David Skinner accepted the award at St John's, Smith Square, London during the evening September 17 2015