COMPOSERS: A & D Scarlatti,Bassano,G Strozzi,Matteis,Pasquini & Arrigoni,Rognoni,Rossi,Vitali
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Capritio
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.
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.
Exciting repertoire, much of it new – strongly recommended. George Pratt