Giovanni Sollima and Monika Leskovar perform works for two cellos

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COMPOSERS: Costanzi
LABELS: Glossa
ALBUM TITLE: Costanzi
WORKS: Sinfonie for cello and basso continuo in D, B flat, G, E
PERFORMER: Giovanni Sollima, Monika Leskovar (cello), Gianluca Ubaldi (timpani, tamburello); Arianna Art Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 923802

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Giovanni Sollima is the living embodiment of an 18th-century virtuoso-composer; a consummate performer-acrobat, whose fiery physicality no dizzying speed nor vaulting elaboration can challenge. While his own music can feel like a high-end period drama, his playing of the real thing is inspired. In Roman cellist-composer Giovanni Battista Costanzi (1704-1778), he has found a galant soul-mate.

Having recorded the Sonatas, he turns to the Sinfonias, with their unusual pattern of slow-fast-(slow)-minuet, where the minuet slips out of formal dress into something more edgy. They also boast flamboyantly expressive ‘amoroso’ movements, here presented with seductive delicacy: the intense B flat Sarabanda amoroso bears comparison with CPE Bach’s slow movements, while the finale crackles with violinistic glitter in Sollima’s hands. Others, like that in D, have a spellbinding musical-box simplicity, the cello pirouetting on high harmonics above transparent continuo – the gracefully empathetic Andrea Rigano and Cinzia Cuarino. If the G major is a gem of Corellian civility, flecked with Sollima’s mischievous wit, the E flat is a perfect encapsulation of stylistic transition, veering temperamentally off-piste, while the C major exudes sumblimated grandeur. 

Sollima’s own Hunting Sonata for two cellos is spiced with Balkan and Maghrebi folk music: Monika Leskovar shares his fearless, mercurial approach.

Helen Wallace

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Listen to an excerpt from this recording here…