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COMPOSERS: Castello/Picchi
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: The Floating City: sonatas, canzonas and dances
PERFORMER: His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts
It was a bold move to put together this collection of ceremonial wind music by – as the disc dubs them – ‘two of Monteverdi’s contemporaries’. But if they are not exactly household names, Dario Castello and Giovanni Picchi are certainly more than ‘also rans’. Castello’s mature sonatas, in particular, are colourful tapestries interweaving virtuoso solo writing, dramatic exchanges between groups of instruments and passion of an almost operatic nature. The dazzling playing of His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts shows the level of expertise that has developed on these instruments in recent years, and they are joined by an equally accomplished group of string and keyboard players. There’s some psychedelic violin playing by Julia Bishop in Castello’s Echo Sonata, with flamboyant keyboard solos by Timothy Roberts and a somewhat polite performance of a Hungarian Ballo by the harpist Frances Kelly. The programme has been put together in such a way as to transcend the limitations of style and idiom inherent in a project like this, and while so much wind music might be too much of a good thing, selective sampling leaves you breathless. How refreshing to see Monteverdi’s contemporaries given their due attention. Kate Bolton