Monteverdi, Merula, Rossi, Uccellini, Riccio, etc

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: etc,Merula,Monteverdi,Riccio,Rossi,Uccellini
LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Viaggio Musicale
WORKS: Works
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.

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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