Thursday, July 26, 2012

Virtuoso violin music from the 17th century

“A fascinating compilation that draws wonderful 'singing' from this virtuoso. .. This is a complex and compelling recording, beautifully executed. ” --Gramophone Magazine, June 2008

“… the violin really 'speaks' here, superbly supported by Imaginarium's varied continuo group.” --BBC Music Magazine, --September 2008 ****

Music history celebrates early 17th-century Italy as the birthplace of ‘modern’ song and opera. It was also the cradle of our instrumental music – and the babe in that manger was the violin, which served first as a lowly handmaiden of dance and song but soon found a voice of its own. Its growth is arrestingly presented here, with the fiddle’s first food – vocal pieces, madrigals by Monteverdi and Gesualdo, to cut its teeth on – tellingly served up alongside a tweenie diet of ‘diminished’ (varied and embellished) songs and, finally, fully-fledged sonatas. Granted, there’s already a terrifying amount of this fine if specialised repertoire on CD and this is just another way to sell it – but I can’t think of many rivals as well programmed or as memorably played.

Interestingly, Monteverdi and Gesualdo, here ‘sung’ instrumentally, linger longest on the palate; but the pioneer virtuosi Fontana, Pandolfi, Cima and Co. leap off this disc too. For once, the mannered accent seemingly de rigeur in Italy’s early-music scene (Onofri leads Il Giardino Armonico) is mostly bang on: the violin really ‘speaks’ here, superbly supported by Imaginarium’s varied continuo group. --Nick Morgan, BBC Music Magazine, --September 2008 ****

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