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1600: Masterpieces of 17th-century Italian Instrumental Music
Mauro Lopes Ferreira, Nicholas Robinson (violins), Ettore Belli (viola), Luca Peverini cello), Ugo di Giovanni (theorbo) & Rinaldo Alessandrini (harpsichord, organ & director)
The programme chosen for this CD by the eminent early music specialist Rinaldo Alessandrini and performed by members of his hand-picked ensemble Concerto Italiano illustrate most of the forms that instrumental music adopted in the course of the seventeenth century. Amongst the composers featured are Giovanni Gabrieli, Frescobaldi, Zanetti, and Torelli, as well as lesser known figures of the period including Giovanni de Macque, Evaristo dall’Abaco, and Giovanni Bononcini.
In 1587 the publication in Venice of a Ricercar per sonar by Andrea Gabrieli was symptomatic of a new order in the history of music. The sole vocation of the art of Europe was no longer to accompany a text, and purely instrumental music was now established in its own right. The city of Venice played a special role in the gradual abandonment of Renaissance forms, where the freedom of thought permitted by the republic and its status as the publishing capital of the world facilitated an unprecedented development of secular music, and it was there in 1617 that Biagio Marini published the first sonata for violin and continuo. The selection of 17th century pieces performed on this CD was entirely recorded by a four-part group (two violins, viola, and continuo), a typically Italian formation that was to lead to the birth of the string quartet in the eighteenth century.
“Concerto Italiano's lean ensemble of a string quartet, harpsichord and archlute plays the descending chromatic figures in a lamentful Fantasie from Rossi's Orfeo with finesse and sensitivity...Alessandrini's programme has a seamless artistic flow that gently pulls the listener along an illuminating narrative...[He] ensures that later music by Legrenzi and Torelli possess astute dance rhythms and shapely harmonic details.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2012
“This is a superb release in every way. The music is engaging and entertaining as well as being excellently played and recorded. It is also historically informative and instructive and I recommend it wholeheartedly.” MusicWeb International, 12th June 2012
“This collection focuses largely on works by lesser-known composers such as Zanetti, Merula and Salvatore, but includes two standout works in the "Fantaisie" attributed to Luigi Rossi, and Frescobaldi's "Canzoni da Sonare", the composer's first significant break with strict counterpoint.” The Independent, 9th March 2012 ***
“The playing is never less than polished, though the bowing of the faster movements is routinely pithy. Concerto Italiano's personality is better expressed in the piercing suspensions of the slower pieces, such as the anonymous Fantasia on the tears of Orpheus.” The Independent on Sunday, 18th March 2012 ****
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Flights of Fantasy
Early Italian Chamber Music
Flights of Fantasy' presents Monica Huggett and her Irish Baroque Orchestra exploring the remarkable range, diversity and whimsy of Italian baroque chamber music.
Think you know Italian baroque chamber music? Think again. The range, diversity – and even wackiness – is remarkable, as illustrated by Flights of Fantasy, an album of acute inventiveness by Avie stalwart Monica Huggett and the chamber soloists of her Irish Baroque Orchestra. Take Carlo Farina’s Capriccio Stravagante, which translates as “outlandish whim”, and imitates barking dogs, meowing cats and gunfire. More serious, but no less virtuosic, experimental forms occur in works by Marini, Castello, Legrenzi, and Cavalli – the Venetian best known for his operas – all heard on this album. Created in 1996, the period-instrument Irish Baroque Orchestra occupies a fundamental place in Ireland’s musical landscape. Ten years in, the mantle of artistic director was assumed by Monica Huggett, who has created a decades-long career of critically acclaimed and award-winning recordings, including the Billboard chart-topping, Grammy-nominated Bach Orchestral Suites on Avie (AV2171).
“There’s always an electric jolt about Huggett’s gut-stringed violin, and she needs every surge of energy for the virtuoso tricks of 17th-century Italian and Italianate chamber music...Huggett’s in the best of company with nine spirited soloists from the Irish Baroque Orchestra.” The Times, 18th September 2010 ****
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