WORKS: Balli, sonate & canzoni
PERFORMER: Monica Huggett (violin), Bruce Dickey (cornett); Galatea/Paul Beier
CATALOGUE NO: STR 33603
Now that’s what I call taking back control of your early music. When period practice took off in the Seventies, Italy fell behind. In the Nineties native groups and labels riposted, some even accusing us northerners of doing an Elgin on their music. Fine, we said, show us. The results rarely lived up to the hype. So bravo, Stradivarius, for signing some of the best people in the business, Italian (three here) or not (a cosmopolitan ten), to get on with the job of giving this freelance Franciscan fiddler his due.
A quick shufti along my shelves turned up seven CDs with bits of Buonamente, the Sonata for three violins from his Book 6 (1636) deservedly most popular. It opens Galatea’s disc and immediately you know you’re in for a treat: a fabulously fantastical disputation between three flighty fiddles, dispatched here with a voluble virtuosity and gesturing grandiloquence the Italians tried to kid us they alone possess. The dance movements have got rhythm, too, especially the galliards; and the continuo’s a sheer pluckfest. Not everything’s perfect: balance problems, mainly between cornetto and violin, aren’t always solved; tuning occasionally errs. But, all in all, an Export Award, please, if Italy has such a thing. Nick Morgan