A & D Scarlatti, Rossi, Vitali, G Strozzi, Matteis, Bassano, Rognoni, Pasquini & Arrigoni

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: A & D Scarlatti,Bassano,G Strozzi,Matteis,Pasquini & Arrigoni,Rognoni,Rossi,Vitali
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Capritio
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Tragicomedia
CATALOGUE NO: HMU 907294
‘Capritio’ refers to the fantasy, surprise, spontaneity which saturate this delightful programme, a spirit lying equally in the music, the instruments and the performance. The music is in turn bizarre in the wild chromaticism of a harpsichord toccata by Rossi, or teasing in the hauntingly strange pulse of a chaconne by Vitali, or evocative in the Scottish lilt of a guitar duo by Matteis. Capricious instrumental colours include two sonatas for the nasal tone of mandolin with continuo, and dialogues between contrasting duos – harpsichord and gamba set against chitarrone and archlute in one sonata by Gregorio Strozzi and, in another by Pasquini, gamba duetting with harpsichord, each with its own guitar accompaniment.

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But such features, however arresting in themselves, depend above all on the imagination of the performers. The four members of Tragicomedia are all multi-handed, playing nine instruments between them. Their imagination is as wide-ranging – some truly capricious rhythmic freedom (only once questionable, as mannered changes in tempo interrupt the drive of an allegro movement); a strangely dense, velvety texture as they extemporise figurations over a sequence of slow chords; uninhibited jollity in the up-and-down strumming of fast guitar chords.

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Exciting repertoire, much of it new – strongly recommended. George Pratt