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The Producer Speaks: Impressions from the Cozzolani Recording Booth

January 10th, 2010 No comments
Peter Watchorn and Joel Gordon

The Men in the Booth: Peter Watchorn and Joel Gordon (photo by David Tayler)

Over recent weeks I have been re-discovering the amazing music of Donna Chiara Margarita Cozzolani and the extraordinary talents of the ladies (and a few gentlemen) of Magnificat who brought it all to life. It seems hardly possible that the first of these recordings took place a decade ago, beginning in August 2000, marking one of Musica Omnia‘s very first projects (We began recording Jaap Schroeder and Penelope Crawford’s Atlantis Ensemble the same year.)

Having released two “liturgical” versions of a fairly hefty sampling of Cozzolani’s music from both 1642 and the grander collection of 1650, we are now finally mining the remaining wealth of material that we captured and preserved all those years ago in order to realize our original goal of presenting all the surviving music by this wonderful and unique composer, who for me exemplifies the second generation of composers of the Italian Baroque.

I can recall the atmosphere of friendly camaraderie between all the performers and their good-natured acceptance of myself as newly appointed (and relatively inexperienced) producer, fortunate to be working with the highly experienced (and fantastic) engineer/co-producer Joel Gordon, who created the “sound” for Musica Omnia and has continued to develop it right up to most recent release – our 30th. And working with Magnificat and Warren Stewart was a great joy – and an education. And, how great it was to simply spend time in the beautiful Bay Area.

I remember being amazed at the virtuosity of the singers, the imagination of the continuo team and the visionary direction of Warren Stewart, who radiated scholarship, practical knowledge and committed enthusiasm for this music with every gesture. It’s also great to recall the special sound created by having SATB music sung entirely by women, recreating the sounds that must have enlivened Chiara Margarita’s convent in Milan, spreading its fame far and wide. And what a cast: Catherine Webster, Meg Bragle, Jennifer Ellis Kampani, Karen Clark, Jennifer Lane, Deborah Rentz-Moore, Ruth Escher, Suzanne Jubenville, Andrea Fullington, Elizabeth Anker and Linda Liebschutz. Not to mention the exemplary continuo support of Hanneke van Proosdij, David Tayler and John Dornenburg. Read more…