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Mascitti: Sonate a violino solo e basso, Opera Ottava

Quartetto Vanvitelli (Arcana)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Sonate a violino solo e basso; Opera Ottava
Quartetto Vanvitelli
Arcana A111   77:02 mins

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The music of Michèle Mascitti does not feature on disc perhaps as much as it deserves. He was a Neapolitan who was born c1663, settled in Paris in 1704 and lived there until 1760. His sonatas, strongly influenced by Corelli, attracted the attention of the Duke of Orléans who employed him until his death, after which Mascitti benefited from the patronage of the wealthy banking family of Crozat.

This new release contains eight Violin Sonatas from a set of 12 published in Paris in 1731 as the composer’s penultimate set, his Op. 8. Like Leclair and Couperin, Mascitti sought to blend or at least to juxtapose elements of the Italian style with, though to a much lesser extent, indigenous, dance-orientated features of his host country. From a technical standpoint Mascitti’s Op. 8 Sonatas seem not to progress much if at all beyond those of Corelli. The music, though, is comparably appealing, with that additional dimension of ultra-montane flavouring. The ‘Pastorale ou Musette’ of the Sixth Sonata affords a particularly attractive example. Elsewhere, it is perhaps the several Allemandes which strike a personal note, as well as providing examples of Mascitti’s ability to imbue the dance with variety of character and colour. Quartetto Vanvitelli bring the music to life admirably. Violinist Gian Andrea Guerra articulates incisively with shapely melodic contours. Occasionally, I found his playing a little meagre in tone but aural adjustment fell into place after a short while. Affectionate responses to the many delights of these sonatas make the disc well worth seeking out.

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Nicholas Anderson