LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Viaggio Musicale
PERFORMER: Il Giardino Armonico
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-82536-2
It is no easy task to plan a satisfying CD of early 17th-century Italian instrumental music, as so many pieces have the same trio-sonata texture and few last more than three or four minutes. Il Giardino Armonico deserves full credit, then, for creating such an imaginative and coherent programme: the sonatas are colourfully varied through the use of violins, recorders or cornetts for the upper parts, together with a rich continuo section; while stylish improvisations link the shorter pieces into sequences.
This is repertoire whose instrumental virtuosity and harmonic daring astonished listeners of the day, and these thrilling interpretations make it easy to see why. The Milan-based players clearly relish the music’s audacity, and quite apart from their admirable technique, they draw on an impressive emotive range – from tender intimacy to brazen exuberance. They exploit rhetorical gestures to great effect and also make dramatic use of chiaroscuro – the striking contrasts of light and shade so beloved of Italian composers of the period. Their choice of a high pitch – thought to have been used in northern Italy in the early 17th century – adds an apt brilliance to the sound. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable disc. Kate Bolton