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COMPOSERS: Uccellini
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Sonatas
PERFORMER: Romanesca: Andrew Manze (violin), Nigel North (theorbo, archlute, Baroque guitar), John Toll (harpsichord, organ)
Andrew Manze’s enthusiasm for 17th-century Italian violin repertoire has already borne remarkable fruit, not least on his last two recordings with Romanesca. One disc explored the revolutionary Stylus Phantasticus that flourished in Northern Italy in the early 1600s, while the other featured the work of Biagio Marini, an innovatory figure in the second quarter of the 17th century.


This new disc takes the next step in what is turning into a fascinating chronological survey. Its focus is Marco Uccellini, maestro at Modena and Parma, and it draws from a 20-year period of pre-eminence marked by his Op. 4 of 1645 and his Op. 9 of 1667. Uccellini extended the avant-garde tradition of Marini and the Stylus Phantasticus: as Manze notes in the CD booklet, ‘his pioneering spirit led him to seek new colours, explore strange keys and to boldly go higher than any violinist had gone before’ – to g’’’, in fact, a world record until Biber squeaked past it in 1681.


These sonatas, fluid in form and often mercurial in their mood shifts, range from dramatic flamboyance (Op. 4/2) to the elegaic terseness of Op. 9/1 – the complete spectrum brought vividly to life in Romanesca’s customary blend of acuity, flair and expertise. Graham Lock