Count Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer (1692-1766) was a nobleman, and Dutch ambassador of the United Provinces to Paris and to Cologne in the 1740s. He was also a remarkably skilled amateur musician and composer. Like many wealthy men of the period who had similar musical skills – Albinoni and Marcello for example – he published his music under a false name as the social standing of musicians and composers was way beneath his.
For many years the Concerti Armonici on this CD were by an unknown composer, and later they were attributed to Handel, Pergolesi, Carlo Ricciotti (1681-1756), and the violinist Charles Bachiche. Only in 1979 did it become possible to attribute these concertos with certainty to Wassenaer. His music shows him to be up to the minute in terms of fashionable musical styles of the time, and, perhaps a result of his travels as a diplomat, have a distinctly Italianate sound. Corelli is especially detectable, with a fondness for sensuality, lyricism and contrasts.
‘…vigorous playing, often very quick, and forceful in attack. There is a proper sense of fun to the finales of the second of the G major Concertos (Nos. 2 and 4) and the one in B flat, and I enjoyed the fancy and the tenderness of the solo violin playing in the F minor Concerto (which was the composer’s own favourite among the set)’ Gramophone, March 1989