A painting of Giovanni Lanfranco (c. 1630) at the Palazzo Barbarini in Rome shows Venus playing on a wonderful Baroque harp. This harp – owned by Cardinal Maffeo Barbarini, the later Pope Urban VII – still exists. It is an extraodinary instrument, not only from an optical but also from a musical point of view: the strings are arranged in three rows, which enables chromatic playing in all keys. This is the Arpa Barberini, which can be visited at the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali in Rome today, a testament to musical performance at the court of the Barberini during the first half of the 17th century.
On the present CD, this important instrument will first be brought in relation with the musical repertoire of the same place and time. The Italian soprano Roberta Invernizzi sings arias and scenes from monodic composers, who were connected with the Barberini court; Margret Köll is accompanying on a copy of the Arpa Barberini built in 2007 and also plays solo pieces by other Roman composers.