ALBUM TITLE: Il Diario Di Chiara
WORKS: Works by Porta, Vivaldi, Porpora, Martinelli, Latilla, Perotti and Bernasconi
PERFORMER: Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 923401
‘Chiara’s Diary’ tells the story of a previously unknown 18th-century instrumental virtuoso. Chiara was a foundling, abandoned at the age of two months on the steps of Venice’s Ospedale della Pietà. The Ospedale’s all-female orphans were musically trained, attracting crowds to concerts held behind a grating at the hospice church. A singer, keyboard player and, above all, treble string soloist, Chiara became a chief attraction. Her ‘diary’ is a notebook, held today at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello, stuffed with her commentary and the music she performed.
Threading together this material, Fabio Biondi creates a programme of music that, apart from Vivaldi’s and Latilla’s, has never been recorded before. He alternates between Sinfonias and concertos to reflect Chiara’s changing stylistic world, and the dazzling solos that composers wrote for her. In the Sinfonias, supple lines merge and separate to capture the subtlest of harmonic shifts. Europa Galante is insouciant, reminding us that galant is an attitude out of which grew a musical style; these players command both.
The solo performances are incandescent, veering between searing lyricism and precocious virtuosity. Extemporisations show why Chiara enthralled her audiences. A standout track is Perotti’s Grave, in which the melodies of solo organ and violin entwine until the violin (Biondi) goes rogue, before being forced to settle on a cadence. The recording venue’s vibrant acoustic is deftly managed. In a short bonus DVD, Chiara’s diary is dramatised as a monologue set against musical excerpts. But it’s Chiara’s music, and the players’ performances, that capture the heart.