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The wording of the title is slightly odd. Around the beginning of the 18th century, Sinfonie were generally thought of as preludes to stir the often rowdy audience into paying attention to the entertainment that awaited them, and often consisted of three movements. These twelve works, though, have either four or five short movements and, since they notionally feature solo instruments, are more like concertos.
Yet, somehow they do not really fit that categorisation either, as these are not virtuoso display pieces as we have come to understand the concerto. Here the flute participates in the musical conversation as an equal partner; in a similar way, the 12 sinfonias use the wind instrument(s) to add colour to the texture. What solos there are tend to provide contrasting interludes rather than showcasing a soloist in the modern sense, even in those slow movements where there are passages for solo flute and bass only. Accordingly they can been viewed (if not exactly heard, for these are works of simple charm that fall easily on the ear) as somewhat experimental.
I Solisti di Milano and their committed musicianship will be familiar to listeners who have followed their progress through much other, often neglected or hardly known Italian Baroque instrumental music on Newton Classics. They are led, as always, by their founding director Angelo Ephrikian (1913–1982), who did so much to bring back to public notice the works of Vivaldi in particular.