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Forza Azzurri! (Las Serenissima)

Tabea Debus (recorder); La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler (violin) (Signum Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Forza Azzurri!
Works by Dall’Abaco, Brescianello, Sammartini, Vivaldi, Zavateri
Tabea Debus (recorder); La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler (violin)
Signum Classics SIGCD 705   82:18 mins

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Forza Azzurri! – a title borrowed from the soccer world, I suspect – is a celebration of late Baroque concertos, with an orchestral suite bringing up the rearguard. The strings of La Serenissima, once again on crisp and orderly form, kick off with the first concerto of Lorenzo Zavateri’s Op. 1. The music offers a lively example of late concerto grosso style and is generously endowed with rich harmonies, catchy rhythms and striking contrasts.

Zavateri is followed by Giuseppe Sammartini’s rewarding Concerto in F major for descant recorder. This piece, and Vivaldi’s C major Concerto for sopranino recorder, both with strings are the best-known works on the disc. Tabea Debus is an accomplished recorder virtuoso who takes a more leisurely view of the music than many of her rivals. This pays off handsomely in the slow movements where, especially in the Vivaldi, a lyrical dimension is prominent. Faster movements are commendably free from empty gesture and any inclination to play to the gallery.

Vivaldi is further represented by two well-contrasted Violin Concertos. The A major piece, with its playful first movement, wistful Andante and galant finale makes particular appeal to my sensibilities. The E minor Concerto is altogether darker. Its stormy opening movement is followed by a pensive Largo, where Vivaldi remains in the tonic key. The finale returns to the drama of the first movement where agitated solo figures are vigorously articulated in Chandler’s solo playing, complemented by responsive tuttis.

A concerto by Evaristo Dall’Abaco and an orchestral suite with an extended chaconne by Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello complete a well thought out programme, sympathetically recorded and helpfully documented.

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Nicholas Anderson