WORKS: Trio Sonatas, Op. 1/1, 2, 5, 7 & 10; Cello Sonata No. 5; Cello Sonata No. 14; Chiacona, Op. 2/12
PERFORMER: Parnassi Musici
CATALOGUE NO: 999 871-2
Caldara was prodigiously prolific, composing nearly 3,500 works, including 90 operas and 40-odd oratorios. There are only a few instrumental collections, with three represented here: trio sonatas of 1693 and 1699 respectively, and two cello sonatas from a set written in the penultimate year of his life, 1735. They’re a welcome addition to the recorded repertoire – genial, fluent and strongly directed harmonically. At times this becomes amusingly predictable: the Grave of Op. 1/2 makes its way round two complete harmonic ‘circles’; the following Allegro has strings of sequences chasing each other up and down. Some moments are arresting though – a charmingly naive minuet, an extended peal of descending scales, rhetorical pauses for brief cadenzas.
Such moments spur Parnassi Musici into committed playing, adding their own colourful devices – pizzicato cello with organ continuo in one movement, no continuo at all to open another. Much, though, is played rather literally; a Chiacona expands through Caldara’s varied figurations, but with little dynamic or expressive support from the players. On one occasion, their rhythmic stability falters as they scurry over a chain of cross-rhythms; otherwise they are reassuringly secure if rather introverted.
The recording quality is attractive, though the continuo combination of cello and organ is a touch prominent. George Pratt