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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Violin Sonatas (complete)
PERFORMER: Andrew Manze (violin), Richard Egarr (harpsichord)
In 1660 a composer called Pandolfi Mealli, then employed by the Hapsburg court at Innsbruck, published two sets of six sonatas numbered as his Opp. 3 and 4. In 1669 a composer called Pandolfi, then working in Messina, Sicily, published a set of six sonatas with no opus number. Nothing more is known about either man and many authorities have assumed them to be the same person. Andrew Manze disagrees, arguing that the 1660 sonatas display a verve and originality conspicuously lacking in the 1669 set. So his latest release, though confusingly titled Pandolfi: Complete Violin Sonatas, actually comprises the two 1660 sets by Pandolfi Mealli.


Manze is certainly right about Mealli. These sonatas (each named after an Innsbruck colleague) are passionate and unpredictable, full of virtuoso flurries and a bold, improvisatory language that looks back to the Stylus Phantasticus and forward to composers such as Biber, Corelli and Purcell. Manze and Egarr are perfectly attuned to the music and to each other (they’ve previously recorded seven of these sonatas for Channel Classics). Manze in particular plays with ardour and a fluidity that stretches form to its limits, gleaning thrilling results from “La Cesta”’s giddy exuberance to the dark, lamenting “La Vinciolina”. Graham Lock