Portrait of a Lady with Harp: Music for Queen Christina of Sweden by Pasquini, Corelli, Arcadelt, Stradella, Alessandro Scarlatti and anonymous

Reviewed on Mon 11 Jun, 2018

On offer is exquisitely nimble finger-work and elegantly nuanced interpretations shot through with quicksilver poetry on a double harp modelled on the 1632 ‘Arpa Barberini’.

Here’s a fascinating – and discretely enjoyable – compendium of music by composers championed by Sweden’s fabled Queen Christina. Having renounced her crown and converted to Catholicism, she moved to Rome in 1654 where she gained a reputation as a generous patron of musicians. Mara Galassi’s intelligently assembled, impeccably played recital makes one wish she recorded more often. On offer is exquisitely nimble finger-work and elegantly nuanced interpretations shot through with quicksilver poetry on a double harp modelled on the 1632 ‘Arpa Barberini’. The six cut-crystal miniatures by Bernardo Pasquini especially appeal but an anonymous Toccata intertwining low and high strings, Corelli’s limpid, liquid F major Sonata and a dexterously delicate arrangement of Stradella’s Sinfonia for Solo Violin also claim attention. Evident throughout in a crisp but ambient recording is Galassi’s consummately subtle musicianship, with Mark Wiggins’s excellent translation of Arnaldo Morelli’s fascinating and informative notes adding to the considerable pleasure. Quietly, blissfully enchanting.
–Michael Quinn