WORKS: Overtures in Eight Parts No. 2 in F; Overtures in Eight Parts No. 4 in B flat; Overtures in Eight Parts No. 5 in E flat; Overtures in Eight Parts No. 6 in F
PERFORMER: Academia Montis Regalis/Luigi Mangiacavallo
CATALOGUE NO: 111 OPS 30-151
Gaetano Pugnani’s music is nothing like the famous Praeludium and Allegro which Kreisler wrote and falsely attributed to him. Charles Burney called him ‘a great violinist and composer for strings of the best 18th-century stamp’, and these ‘overtures’ are actually pre-Classical symphonies.
Much of Pugnani’s working life was spent in London, where these pieces were published. It’s no surprise that JC Bach was a close friend: the lyrical debt to him is clear, though the presto of Overture No. 6 would owe more to CPE Bach were its energy not allowed to flag.
Elsewhere there is fine playing from this period orchestra specialising in the transitional period between the Baroque and Classical eras: wind is polished, high horns pop exhilaratingly in the B flat Overture, and fortepiano joins harpsichord as a discreet continuo. Strings, three or four to a part, rarely lose the focus of perfect intonation. George Pratt