LABELS: Zig Zag
ALBUM TITLE: Valentini
WORKS: Concerti Grossi, Op. 7 – various: Concerto Grosso No. 1; Concerto Grosso No. 10; Concerto Grosso No. 11
PERFORMER: Ensemble 415/Chiara Banchini
CATALOGUE NO: ZZT 020801
Charles Burney dismissed these concertos, in 1789, as ‘long since consigned to oblivion without any loss to the public’. In fact, they’re highly original, often amusing and bizarre, a charming antidote to over-serious adulation of Vivaldi, Corelli and their contemporaries. Valentini’s preface says ‘novelty is habitually agreeable to the ear’ and many movements stretch stylistic conventions to near breaking-point. Most striking are sequences venturing into wholly unexpected territory, often by chromatic side-slips or harmonic hand-brake turns – try Concerto 7’s finale for instance. No. 1 opens with violin alone clambering up two octaves of melodic sequence before an uneasy adagio/allegro alternation. No. 10 ends with a rustic allegro coloured by strings in octaves and violent variations of tempo. Only No. 11 is otherwise recorded, a most imaginative concerto for four violins in seven movements including a tidy fugue and a fiery finale.
The playing is expressive and highly polished, bar a moment of sour intonation, and the recording warmed by a generous acoustic. George Pratt