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The Folger Spotlight

ENCORES: ‘Sonata sopra l’aria di Ruggiero’ performed by Folger Consort (2018)

Folger ENCORES, red theater seats fading into darkness
Folger ENCORES, red theater seats fading into darkness

Beginning today, Folger Public Programs is pleased to present ENCORES, a weekly online series highlighting past performances and recalling the rich history of programming on the historic Folger stage. As many arts and cultural institutions remain closed during this time, these ENCORES provide a way to connect and revisit the breadth of Folger offerings with a wider audience.

ENCORES presents

Folger Consort
Sonata sopra l’aria di Ruggiero by Salamone Rossi
Originally performed as part of the program Il Lauro Verde: The Blossoming of the Italian Baroque, February 2018
View the program
Read the program notes online

Performed by

  • Risa Browder, violin
  • Robert Eisenstein, violin
  • Christopher Kendall, theorbo
  • Livio Ticli, harpsichord
  • Marcello Mazzaetti, viola da gamba
  • vocalist Jolle Greenleaf also pictured

To listen to other music that appeared on the program, including another work by Rossi, visit us on Spotify.

Read the introduction by Folger Consort Co-Artistic Director Robert Eisenstein:

Hi everyone, and welcome to Folger Encores. I’m Bob Eisenstein, one of the co-Artistic Directors of the Folger Consort, and it’s my pleasure to introduce this little episode with Salamone Rossi’s music.

We have been missing you all tremendously this year – it’s been really hard for us – but on the other hand, it’s given us time at the Folger to reflect on everything that we have done. Most of it is recorded for archival purposes, because of course we are a library, and we do keep things.

Everyone here has been hard at work making these archives available. We have readings, performances – like the little one you’re about to hear – and lectures, and we’re really happy to be able to make them available again. I just ask as you watch and listen, keep in mind this not a big, major production in terms of video. We have one camera mounted at the back of the Folger Theatre – it’s kind of the vantage point that a lot of our audience prefers for concerts. So, there’s no zooming in and out, no special lighting or anything, but we do have these wonderful performances and events to share. I hope you can listen to some of them and see them and enjoy them.

This time, we’re going to focus on the music of Salamone Rossi. He was a Jewish violinist and composer who was active in his hometown of Mantua in the early 17th century. He was really prominent at the court in Mantua where we worked with Claudio Monteverdi, among others, and also with several Jewish theatrical troupes active in Mantua – not just in the ghetto, but in the Christian community as well. In fact the duke, Vincenzo Gonzaga, decreed that Rossi and his sister Europa, who was a famous singer, didn’t have to wear the compulsory yellow badge imposed on the Jewish community.

Now, Rossi is probably most famous today for one of his publications, a book called Ha-shirim asher li-Shlomo – Songs of Solomon. These are settings of Hebrew psalms and hymns and other material for synagogue service and they’re one of the earliest prints of synagogue music from this period, in fact the most complete one. He also wrote Italian madrigals very much in the style of [Luca] Marenzio and Monteverdi and the other great madrigal composers of the time.

But, as one Jewish fiddler admiring another, I’m most fond of his violin music, like the Sonata sopra l’aria di Ruggiero you’ll hear now. It’s just two violins and continuo, and the fiddles get virtuoso licks, trading back and forth over a famous bassline. These sonatas by Rossi are some of the earliest violin sonatas and they really are great fun to play – hope you enjoy listening to it!

If you’d like to know more about the Folger Consort, please visit and you’ll find performance histories and artist bios and information about upcoming programs. I hope you keep coming to these Encore performances. We hope to see you. And thanks for tuning in!

Encores LogoCheck back each Friday for a new “from the archives” performance, introduced by some of our favorite artists, showcasing the best of Folger TheatreFolger ConsortO.B. Hardison Poetry, and lectures.