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MusicPart of Humanities

Erin Headley and Atalante

Published: 29 January 2014

Southampton's Turner Sims Fellow Erin Headley and her ensemble, Atalante, have just released the third instalment of their critically acclaimed series Reliquie di Roma, exploring little-known musical treasures of 17th-century Rome.

Reliquie de Roma III - Mortale, che pensi? is a world première recording of Roman dramatic cantatas, featuring Alessandro Stradella’s L'Incendio di Roma (The Fire of Rome) for bass (Nero) and strings, Luigi Rossi's melting and intoxicating Lament of Zaida on the abduction of Mustafa by Tuscan Christians, Marco Marazzoli's raging and turbulent Armida, the Saracen sorceress abandoned by Rinaldo, Domenico Mazzocchi's Lagrime Amare, one of the 17th-century's most unforgettable Magdalene laments, and more. Videos and sample tracks are available on Atalante's website.

Erin Headley is the world's leading exponent of the lirone, a haunting and expressive bowed string instrument widely used in Baroque Italy to accompany the voice. Her award-winning ensemble Atalante is named in honour of Leonardo da Vinci's friend and pupil Atalante Migliorotti, the lirone's inventor. Atalante's luxurious continuo band of triple harp, chitarrone, keyboards, viol consort and lirone accompany a sublimely dark repertoire that has been languishing in the Vatican Library for 300 years.

Atalante's début in October 2009 at the Southbank Centre in London – in staged performances of the laments of Artemisia, Helen of Troy, Mary Magdalene and the Blessed Virgin – was a revelatory experience for public and critics alike. Since then, Atalante has brought this repertory to audiences at festivals and concert halls worldwide, and their first two recordings in the Reliquie di Roma have garnered extensive critical praise.

'For extravagant, exotic beauty, the highlight of the weekend has to be the soundworld of Atalante's lirones, viols, lutes, harp and keyboards playing Rossi and Marazzoli's opulent ‘vanitas' laments' Observer

‘Breathtaking performances of delicious music’ Gramophone

‘Music of the highest invention and emotional sophistication. The rich accompaniment by Atalante, not least the unique sound of the lirone, surrounds the voices like luxurious Baroque embroidery.’ International Record Review

'Revelatory . . . a milestone . . a more powerful and persuasive advocacy for these pieces could hardly be imagined' Iain Fenlon, Early Music



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