The Independent On Sunday

An ensemble of female singers with a mixed-sex continuo team of organ, harp and chitarrone, Musica Secreta has driven the vogue for music written by or for the female musicians of 17th- century Venice and Ferrara. In this recording of Alessandro Grandi’s five-part motets, they extend their repertoire, presenting arrangements after those of the nuns of the Clarissan convent of Sant’Orsola, Mantua. With tenor or bass lines transposed up an octave or replaced by the instruments, the effect is a little like being caught in a rugby scrum of enthusiastic angels. Yet the singing is never less than vivacious and artful.

—Anna Picard