La Voce nel Violino

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bassano,Castello,Cima,di Venosa,Fontana,Frescobaldi,Mealli,Monteverdi,Rognono,Uccelini,Veracini
ALBUM TITLE: La Voce nel Violino
WORKS: Works for violin and continuo
PERFORMER: Imaginarium/Enrico Onofri (violin)


Music history celebrates early 17th-century Italy as the birthplace of ‘modern’ song and opera. It was also the cradle of our instrumental music – and the babe in that manger was the violin, which served first as a lowly handmaiden of dance and song but soon found a voice of its own. Its growth is arrestingly presented here, with the fiddle’s first food – vocal pieces, madrigals by Monteverdi and Gesualdo, to cut its teeth on – tellingly served up alongside a tweenie diet of ‘diminished’ (varied and embellished) songs and, finally, fully-fledged sonatas. Granted, there’s already a terrifying amount of this fine if specialised repertoire on CD and this is just another way to sell it – but I can’t think of many rivals as well programmed or as memorably played. Interestingly, Monteverdi and Gesualdo, here ‘sung’ instrumentally, linger longest on the palate; but the pioneer virtuosi Fontana, Pandolfi, Cima and Co. leap off this disc too. For once, the mannered accent seemingly de rigeur in Italy’s early-music scene (Onofri leads Il Giardino Armonico) is mostly bang on: the violin really ‘speaks’ here, superbly supported by Imaginarium’s varied continuo group. Nick Morgan