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Flights Of Fantasy - Early Italian Chamber Music

Irish Baroque Orchestra
Release Date: 09/14/2010 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 2202   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Dario CastelloCarlo FarinaPier Francesco CavalliBiagio Marini,   ... 
Conductor:  Monica Huggett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Baroque Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



FLIGHTS OF FANTASY: Early Italian Chamber Music Monica Huggett, cond; Irish Baroque O Ch Sol (period instruments) AVIE AV2202 (78:53)


CASTELLO Sonata decimaquarta à 4. Sonata Seconda. Sonata decimal sesta. FARINA Capriccio Stravagante. CAVALLI Sonata à 6. MARINI Passacaglio à 4. Read more BIBER Harmonia Artificiosa Partia VI. LEGRENZI Sonata à 5. BERTALI Sonata à 5. FRESCOBALDI Canzona Terza


The subtitle, Early Italian Chamber Music , says it all. This collection of largely mid 17th-century music demonstrates that theatrical audacity, contrapuntal mastery, and seemingly inexhaustible gift for interesting melody that so many composer-musicians of the Italian States produced for their noble and churchly patrons. The Biber may be the odd man out here, but its inclusion is understandable. As a demonstration piece for early Baroque violinists it can hardly be bettered in context.


Last year I reviewed a release of very similar content by the Ensemble Clematis (Ricercar 285), which evidently regarded this kind of material as “Very Serious Music—meaning that it must be played slowly, with metrical regularity, little dynamic contrast, and almost no figures. It doesn’t help that spotlighted violinist Stéphanie de Failly has a wiry, unpleasant tone, nor that the ensemble’s director, Leonardo Garciá-Alarcón, chooses to accompany most selections from the portative organ, with lengthy, dark chords.”


Nothing could be further from the approach adopted by Monica Huggett and her Irish Baroque Orchestra. Continuo is always firm, organ or bowed instruments supplying a harmonic underpinning, and with a good use where appropriate of strummed chords on harp and theorbo that inflect and accent the rhythm. String tone is neither velvety from a richly reverberant acoustic, nor thin and undernourished, but attractively broad and perfectly even. Both fast and slow vibratos are applied sparingly for color, with secure intonation and transparency between all voices making both fugal movements (such as the one that leads off Cavalli’s Sonata à 6) and vertically harmonized ones (Marini’s Passacaglio à 4) a joy to hear—rather than an exercise in waiting for the next careless near-pitch to fall. Tempos are varied, while avoiding the extremes of sluggishness and manic display for display’s sake. Technically proficient violin solos, such as those featured throughout Biber’s Harmonia Artificiosa Partia VI , are tossed off without a hitch; slower ones boast a welcome degree of inflected tonal panache. The one cut of keyboard music included here, Frescobaldi’s Canzona terza, is treated with an appropriately greater degree of rhythmic flexibility that centers on cadences, note density, and harmonic shifts.


If you haven’t guessed by now, this release is very successful. It captures both the letter and spirit of this vivacious, demonstrative music. Engineering is good, too, with a good balance within sections, and between the ripieno and soloists. This is also one of the few early orchestral recordings where the continuo makes itself heard as well as felt. Throw in a truly generous album length, as well; in short, buy it.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1. Sonate concertate in stil moderno Book 2: Sonata no 14 à 4 by Dario Castello
Conductor:  Monica Huggett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1629; Venice, Italy 
2. Sonate concertate in stil moderno Book 2: Sonata no 16 à 4 by Dario Castello
Conductor:  Monica Huggett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1629; Venice, Italy 
3. Ander Theil newer Paduanen, Gagliarden, Couranten, franzosischen Arien: Capriccio stravagante by Carlo Farina
Conductor:  Monica Huggett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1627; Dresden, Germany 
4. Sonata a 6 by Pier Francesco Cavalli
Conductor:  Monica Huggett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
5. Passacalia a 4 by Biagio Marini
Conductor:  Monica Huggett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venezia, 1655; Italy 
6. Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa: Partita no 4 for Violin, Viola and Basso Continuo by Heinrich Ignaz Biber
Conductor:  Monica Huggett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Bohemia 
7. Sonate da chiesa (16), Op. 8: no 3, La Fugazza by Giovanni Legrenzi
Conductor:  Monica Huggett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1663 
8. Sonata à 5 by Giovanni Legrenzi
Conductor:  Monica Huggett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Baroque Orchestra
9. Sonata à 5 by Antonio Bertali
Conductor:  Monica Huggett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century 
10. Canzona no 3 by Girolamo Frescobaldi
Conductor:  Monica Huggett
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Irish Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: Rome, Italy 

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