G Sammartini, Gb Sammartini

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COMPOSERS: G Sammartini,Gb Sammartini
LABELS: Glossa
WORKS: Organ Concerti, Op. 9: Organ Concerto No. 1; Organ Concerto No. 2; Organ Concerto No. 3; Organ Concerto No. 4
PERFORMER: La Risonanza/Fabio Bonizzoni (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 921505
Elder brother of the better known Giovanni Battista Sammartini, Giuseppe Sammartini settled in London during the late 1720s. He was a brilliant oboist who played in Handel’s opera orchestra, and was described by the English music historian John Hawkins as the greatest that the world had ever known. Giuseppe was also a gifted composer whose style sometimes anticipates early Classicism. The four concertos on this disc, though played on an organ, are not, strictly speaking, organ concertos. They were published in London in about 1754 as ‘Concertos for the Harpsichord or Organ…’ An earlier recording of these immediately appealing works by Martin Gester and Le Parlement de Musique (Accord) uses both of the instruments, thereby affording the listener additional interest and greater variety. Nevertheless, the new release, makes a favourable impression and this is in no small measure thanks to the charm of the organ itself. Though built half a century after Sammartini’s concertos were published, its tonal clarity and character correspond with an earlier aesthetic rather than a later one.

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Fabio Bonizzoni enters into the playful, carefree spirit of the music with infectious enthusiasm and his four-part single string ensemble supports him sympathetically if not invariably with unanimity of pitch. The striking chromaticisms of the opening movement of the Second Concerto disclose the group’s vulnerability. Gester’s version, with similar forces, fares better in this respect while a third by the Archicembalo Ensemble (La Bottega Discantica 55) falls some way behind. But Bonizzoni’s bravura responses to the music and his unfailingly well-judged tempi just carry the day. Nicholas Anderson