Released March 2010 Analekta

In one of the first albums entirely devoted to the works of the remarkable Florentine composer Francesca Caccini, Shannon once again reveals herself an artistic and intuitive performer of Baroque vocal music. Joining Shannon on this disc are frequent musical partners Sylvain Bergeron (theorbo, baroque guitar), Luc Beauséjour (harpsichord, organ) and Amanda Keesmaat (cello). 

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Shannon explains some of the interpretive challenges of this recording:
“The most challenging aspects of Francesca Caccini’s music are her amazingly long phrases and evocative and sonorous texts that I really wanted to convey as clearly as possible. I had to explore new approaches to the trills, vocal control and breathing in a completely different way. It’s almost as if we were creating something completely new, or solving an equation. We had to be spontaneous and creative, and use our improvisational skills, and that’s what we love most about this repertoire. But we were all driven by the importance of bringing the work to light and recognizing the talent of this remarkable composer!”  


Shannon Mercer, soprano
Luc Beauséjour, harpsichord
Sylvain Bergeron, theorbo, baroque guitar
Amanda Keesmaat, cello 

Track listing

Francesca Caccini (1587 – ca.1641) 
1. O vive rose (Oh bright roses) – canzonetta   3:04  LISTEN HERE
2. Non sò se quel sorriso (I don’t know if that smile) – canzonetta   3:29
3Rendi alle mie speranze il verde (Give back to my hopes)   4:05
4. Io veggio i campi verdeggiar fecondi (I see the fertile fields turn green)   3:30
5. Se muove (If he decides to take oath) – canzonetta 3:15
6. Dolce Maria (Sweet Maria) madrigal   3:01  LISTEN HERE
7. Lasciatemi (Leave me) aria   5:54
8. S’io men vò (If I leave) – canzonetta   2:23
9. Regina celi – motet  2:23
10. Dov’io credea le mie speranze vere (Where I thought my hopes were real) – aria 4:22
11. Ch’Amor sia nudo (Let Love be bare) – canzonetta   2:35
12. O chiome belle (Oh beautiful hair) – canzonetta   2:44
13. Io mi distruggo (I perish) – madrigal   4:41
14. Te lucis ante terminum Arrangement Luc Beauséjour (organ)   2:57
15. La pastorella (The young shepherdess) – aria   3:14
16. Quattro Canzoni di mio padre, Giulio Caccini, transcriptions Sylvain Bergeron (solo guitar)   4:09
17. Su le piume de’ venti trionfator (On the wings of the winds triumphant) – aria   3:40
18. Fresche aurette (Fresh breezes) – canzonetta   1:32  LISTEN HERE


“‘Francesca Caccini, O Viva Rosa’ – is one of the finest discs I have heard in a long while…. a superlative tribute to Francesca Caccini (1587 – c.1641). The striking qualities of Mercer’s liquid, full-bodied lyric soprano are on display starting with the first canzonetta ‘O viva rosa’. The clear, resonant, yet intimate quality of the recording itself allows the listener to hear and enjoy every detail of Mercer’s immaculate singing as well as the playing of the instrumentalists. Her light soprano has a glowing core to the sound in which we hear her emotional connection to the music as she sings. Her use of legato is flawless, and she offers the exceptional breath control demanded by Caccini’s music. She also negotiates an incredible variety of ornaments – turns, shakes, trills, melismas – all with utter security and the insouciance that comes from having a rock-solid vocal technique. The album, taken as a whole, is a tour-de-force of virtuoso singing and playing. I couldn’t imagine better quality performances from any of the participants.” (MusicalCriticism, April 23, 2010)

“Francesca Caccini was a leading Florentine musician of the early 17th century who plainly knew a thing or two about heartbreak. Her haunting slow air becomes piercingly immediate in this gorgeous performance by Ottawa-born soprano Shannon Mercer, of a new arrangement with instrumental trio.” (Globe and Mail, 22 March 2010)

“One of Toronto’s finest classical singers, soprano Shannon Mercer, digs up early-Baroque vocal treasures by Italian songbird Francesca Caccini…Mercer sings 17 of the airs, canzonettas, madrigals and hymns with impeccable craft, brilliant voice, affecting emotion and tasteful ornamentation. She is accompanied by some of Montreal’s finest period performers, including lute master Sylvain Bergeron and harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour.” (Toronto Star, 16 March 2010)

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