Marcello: Sonatas, Op. 3

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LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
WORKS: Sonatas, Op. 3
PERFORMER: Roberto Loreggian (harpsichord)
Is this, as the unusually scholarly accompanying note by Alessandro Borin suggests, the Venetian composer Benedetto Marcello’s otherwise missing Op. 3? Very likely. The absence of any print that bears that designation has teased musicologists for some time, for numerically on either side sit an Op. 2 consisting of solo flute sonatas and an Op. 4, a collection of Canzoni madrigalesche. The ten keyboard sonatas, most of them cast in four movements (though two have just three, and one, thanks to a Prelude, five) are hardly, however, lost works, since they survive in a handful of well-documented manuscript sources scattered around Europe. And they are fine works, confirming Marcello as the Domenico Scarlatti of Venice with their variety of expression, their boldness of language, and indeed their predominant binary forms.


There are two and a quarter hours’ worth of music here, including a stand-alone 15-minute chaconne named La stravaganza which swaggers with individuality and self-confidence, and a little two-movement piece called Laberinto, notated on a single stave with constantly changing clef signs. Roberto Loreggian plays rather soberly – something to do with the sonority of the instrument, a reconstruction based on the work of Giovanni Battista Giusti – but his own lack of extroversion permits the music’s considerable qualities to shine through, and certainly his playing is not wanting for character. Just listen to the witty if sober elegance he imparts to the delightful closing minuet of the five-movement Suonata settima for proof. Stephen Pettitt