Notes and Editorial Reviews
Recorder Sonatas Nos. 1, 2, 4–6, 10–12
Gwyn Roberts (rec, flauto traverso, voice flute); Lisa Terry (vc); Richard Stone (archlute, gtr, thb); Adam Pearl (hpd, org)
CHACONNE 0801 (68:01)
Back in 36:4 I reviewed a Brilliant Classics set of Francesco Mancini’s 12 concertos for recorder, which—as I noted in that review—are not to be confused with his 12 sonatas for that instrument, of which eight are presented here. As both I and other reviewers (e.g., see reviews of a complete set of the sonatas by
Raymond Tuttle in 34:4, and of single discs of selected sonatas by Barry Brenesal in 30:3 and by Tom Moore in 18:3) have discussed the composer and his career in some detail, I will forego repetition of that here. The set of sonatas was published in London in 1724 and dedicated to the English counsel to the Kingdom of Naples, John Fleetwood. While it can no longer be known for sure, it seems likely that Mancini, chafing after many years of being the underling of Alessandro Scarlatti, was angling to find a more prestigious and lucrative position in England, a nation that had proven itself a hospitable haven for a goodly number of Italian musical expatriates. (Paradoxically, the publication of the sonatas in England may have been facilitated by an English expatriate to Italy, the virtuoso recordist Robert Valentine.) In any case, when Scarlatti died in 1725, Mancini at last succeed to his position as
maestro di capella
to the royal chapel in Naples, with the death of Fleetwood a month later also likely having scotched any designs on English preferment the composer may have harbored.
All of the performers here are members of Tempesta di Mare, the estimable early music ensemble resident here in my home city of Philadelphia; Roberts and Stone are its co-directors. It is always a pleasure to be able to root for the home team, and the stellar caliber of these renditions, equaling those of previous CDs by the entire ensemble that I and other reviewers have praised in these pages, makes it easy to do so. Roberts is a sovereign and elegant mistress of her instruments, and her trio of accompanists is equally accomplished. Among the most striking features of this release are the subtle inventiveness and expressiveness of the playing and interpretations. Although the tempos tend to be just a hair faster than those in the complete Tripla Concordia set reviewed by Tuttle, they actually have a more relaxed feel, with emphasis placed on the legato singing line rather than brilliance of staccato passage-work. The use of different instruments by both soloist and accompanists likewise adds a welcome variety of timbres that maintains and heightens interest. With its typical level of attentive detail, Chandos not only provides the exact instrumentation employed in each sonata, but detailed program notes and musician bios, and even reproductions of printed pages from the sonatas illustrating different facets of various movements, plus photos of the various instruments. While the fine Tripla Concordia set remains a necessary acquisition for anyone desiring a complete set of these works, this disc immediately takes pride of place among the few releases devoted to Mancini’s recorder sonatas; enthusiastically recommended.
FANFARE: James A. Altena
Be the first to review this title