In this comprehensive survey of Italian Baroque sonatas and concertos, the virtuoso period-instrument ensemble Accademia Vivaldiana takes its lead from Frescobaldi’s address to the reader in his first volume of toccatas. There the great organist enjoins on the performer an exceptional degree of interpretative freedom, and the improvisatory aspect of these performances will surely move and beguile the listener just as the composers intended. We visit the three cities that were the focus of the new age of Italian instrumental music in the mid-17th century – Modena, Venice and Bologna – and hear music by such key figures as Marco Uccellini, Giovanni Legrenzi, the Gabrielis and Giovanni Battista Vitali. Later, Bologna would cede itsRead more pre-eminence as Venice became the cultural and economic heart of Europe and the undisputed centre of Italian music. The solo sonatas and concertos of Vivaldi, Albinoni, Galuppi and Marcello, with their expansive, flowing and richly ornamented melodies, tell the story of Venice with a melodic immediacy that reflects familiar scenes, places and colours: a musical equivalent of the landscapes of Tintoretto and Veronese. While a hint of nostalgic melancholy sometimes pervades the slow movements – perhaps reflecting the watery setting of their composers’ city – the Allegros, full of light and joy, remind us of all the glories of Venice. Read less
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