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Musica al tempo del Guercino e dei suoi allievi / Dantcheva, Andalo

Bassani / Dantcheva / Andalo / Villa
Release Date: 09/10/2013 
Label:  Stradivarius   Catalog #: 33932   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Giovanni Battista BassaniGiovanni Maria BononciniBiagio MariniClaudio Monteverdi,   ... 
Performer:  Alena DantchevaMichele Andalò
Conductor:  Saverio Villa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Animantica
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MUSICA AL TEMPO DEL GUERCINO E DEI SUOI ALLIEVI Saverio Villa, cond; Alena Dantcheva (sop); Michele Andalò (alt); Animatica (period instruments) STRADIVARIUS 33932 (43:56 Text and Translation)


Music by BASSANI, BONONCINI, CAZZATI, LEGRENZI, MARINI, MONTEVERDI, STRADELLA


The subject here is immediately intriguing judging from the cover, which has portions of two paintings by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Read more Guercino (1591–1666), with clear colors and an interplay of light and dark. The somewhat dense booklet essay elaborates further, taking as its point of departure a statement by Giorgio Vassari, who noted that such artistic contrasts were analogous to the eye “just as a balanced and witty music delights the ear.” This, of course, begs further definition and perhaps even a sort of sound-and-light show to make the exact connections, but the early music group Animatica has instead chosen a concert of works, sonatas interspersed occasionally with a couple of vocal pieces, that date from this period in the 17th century and are meant to illustrate this Vassari quote.


One may argue whether the musical use of affetti really corresponds to chiaroscuro in art, especially given the development of instrumental musical genres, such as the trio sonata, during this period, but there is no doubt that the conductor, Saverio Villa, has chosen a repertory that is both topical and pertinent to his argument. The two vocal pieces are the longest of this rather short disc. The Monteverdi comes from a set of Psalms published posthumously in 1650, while the motet “O vos omnes” is by that Baroque bad boy Alessandro Stradella. The latter is the most striking, with a surprising lone vocal entrance of the alto, sung ably by Michele Andalò. The continuo sneaks in subtly and the first aria seems to evolve out of a languid arioso. The surprising bit is the concluding “Alleluia,” which is quite virtuoso, using the melismatic vowels to their greatest advantage.


The trio sonatas, however, are rather different, mostly consisting of imitative passages between the two violins. Three of them, by Biagio Marini, Maurizio Cazzati, and Giovanni Legrenzi, seem to be based upon pre-extant popular tunes, or at least they have the subtitles associated with them. The first composer’s 1655 work, based upon Fuggi dolente core, consists of four very short movements in imitative fashion. Here the harmonies are somewhat predictable, although at the end of the opening Grave there seems to be a missing leading tone, which makes it sound probably more modal and old-fashioned at that point that it was. The Legrenzi Sonata, based upon La Bonacossa , has a rather lengthy fugal Allegro that seems rather like Corelli, followed by a mysterious Adagio with some rather gnarly dissonant harmonies, which suddenly explode into a running line. The actual song comes in the penultimate Adagio in chorale-like fashion. Giovanni Bassani’s D-Major Sonata opens with a pair of violins scurrying about the place in imitative statements that sound like some sort of ground ostinato (though it isn’t), while the second movement is a gigue with odd rhythmic impulses. The only adagio contains suspensive harmonies that somehow don’t resolve as they are supposed to, leading to a certain ambiguity as to where the work will end (it does in a most conventional manner). Giovanni Bononcini’s G-Minor Sonata, however, offers a second movement filled with suspensions that suddenly develops into a Presto colophon unexpectedly. The real treat is the C-Major Sonata by Stradella, done from manuscript. The short opening suspensions are almost Vivaldian, while he throws in a rather intricate fugue (likewise rather brief) followed by a rollicking gigue at the end.


This is truly a very nice disc. With the exception of the occasionally brash Baroque guitar/theorbo playing by Giangiacomo Pinardi, the instruments are all quite complementary. One finds that the music is a bit conservative and doesn’t always reflect the subtle chiaroscuro contrasts that one might find, for instance, in Guercino’s painting, but the harmonies are all performed with considerable attention to line and blend. The recording tends to be a bit live, but this only serves to outline the interplay between the violins. If one is looking for a moment of striking individuality in instrumental music, then this is probably neither the disc nor the era for you. But if you want a concert that has the variety of a good set of occasional voice works and some interesting early sonatas, then you might want to investigate this performance.


FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

1. Trio Sonata in D major by Giovanni Battista Bassani
Conductor:  Saverio Villa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Animantica
2. Trio Sonatas, Op. 1: no 7 by Giovanni Maria Bononcini
Conductor:  Saverio Villa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Animantica
3. Sonata sopra fuggi dolente core by Biagio Marini
Conductor:  Saverio Villa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Animantica
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century 
4. Confitebor tibi, Domine by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Alena Dantcheva (Soprano), Michele Andalò (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Saverio Villa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Animantica
5. Trio Sonata in C major by Alessandro Stradella
Conductor:  Saverio Villa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Animantica
6. Trio Sonata "La ranuzza" by Maurizio Cazzati
Conductor:  Saverio Villa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Animantica
7. O vos omnes qui transitis by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Alena Dantcheva (Soprano), Michele Andalò (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Saverio Villa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Animantica
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Italy 
8. Trio Sonata "La bonacossa" by Giovanni Legrenzi
Conductor:  Saverio Villa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Animantica

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