The Guardian

Musica Secreta is an all-female vocal group formed in 1990 specifically to perform and record “music associated with women in the early modern period” – not just works by women composers, it seems, but also works that were established by women’s performances. So this collection of 16 motets by Alessandro Grandi, which were published in Ferrara in 1614, are performed here as they might have been sung by a convent choir or the concerto di dame that flourished in Ferrara at that time – though there’s no evidence that Grandi, who was a major figure in north Italian music in the first decades of the 17th century and perhaps second only in importance to Monteverdi, ever had such all-female performances in mind. However, with the tenor and bass lines generally transposed up an octave, and the bass sometimes not sung at all, the music has a curiously weightless quality, and even though the performances are decently polished and delineated, the inevitable overlapping of the lines makes the polyphonic strands less distinct and the textures unduly constrained.

—Andrew Clements