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“Donna Chiara Margarita Cozzolani merits the highest praise […] for her unusual and excellent nobility of musical invention...” (Filippo Picinelli, Ateneo dei letterati milanesi, 1670)
The number of well-known female composers in the 17th century can be counted on the fingers of our hands, and it is only centuries later that many of their treasures, like these Vespers of the Virgin Mary by Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, have been unearthed. From the heart of the exquisite 11th-century Église Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul in Brûlon, France comes this medley of gorgeous choral music led by Emiliano González Toro, tenor and Baroque specialist, who conducts and sings alongside his stellar Ensemble I Gemelli. The accompanying instrumentalists bring out the elegance and inventiveness of this richly colorful program that brims with sublime moments like O quam bonus es, a motet for two sopranos.
In 1602, composer, nun, and abbess Chiara Margarita Cozzolani was born in Milan. Like her sister, aunt, and nieces, Cozzolani, daughter of a wealthy merchant, was destined for a religious life that would circumscribe her artistic pursuits. However, a remarkable talent like hers did not pass unnoticed—including by Archbishop Alfonso Litta who, wary of the success of the nuns of Santa Radegonda under Abbess Cozzolani, sought to curtail the convent’s musical activities and their “irregular” contact with the outside world…