COMPOSERS: A Scarlatti,G Strozzi,Greco,Salvatore
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Music at the Time of Luca Giordano
PERFORMER: Enrico Baiano (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: SY 01184
Luca Giordano, for those similarly hazy about 17th-century Neapolitan art, was a painter. Indeed, he it was who painted the Flight into Egypt inside the lid of the harpsichord played here, which features attractively on the booklet cover.
Enrico Baiano, a Neapolitan himself, and obviously a bit of a crusader for the music of his home town, has made a representative selection of keyboard music in Naples at the time, with short pieces by Alessandro Scarlatti, his contemporary, Gaetano Greco, and two virtuosi players of a generation earlier, Giovanni Salvatore and Gregorio Strozzi.
The toccata is seen developing from the free prelude-like works of Strozzi and Salvatore, with their abrupt modulations and stylistic about-turns, to the brilliant moto perpetuo works of Scarlatti. Solemn, imitative ricercari by Salvatore in each of the church modes alternate with playful correnti and mascara, conjuring up carnivals and masked balls.
Baiano plays with sparkling energy and style. His stretching of the rhythm is usually successful; only in the alternate-hand semiquavers in Greco’s Partite sopra il ballo di Mantova does it threaten to rock the boat.
The anonymous late 17th-century instrument, once the property of that great patron Cardinal Ottoboni, has a bright, forceful sound, though it comes across rather heavy in the bass register. Janet Banks