Viviani was born in Florence in 1638. After
working as violinist in the court chapel in Innsbruck, he left
this post in 1663, when the new archduke took power. After a
few years wandering, he returned to Innsbruck, as Kapellmeister,
then to Augsburg. He probably went to Venice after that, where
his opera Astiage was staged, and then to Rome. One interesting
moment in his life was the performance of an oratorio, probably
that he composed, which included at least two other great musicians:
Bernardo Pasquini and Arcangelo Corelli.
Viviani’s life is not well-known; he wandered
here and there, and had no long-term posts for most of his career.
The recordings on this disc are a selection of his sonatas for
violin and continuo - either viola da gamba with either organ
or harpsichord. There are also two works for trumpet; an unusual
solo instrument for such small-scale works.
There is a bit of confusion in these works.
Each track is one work, often containing several movements,
so it is not always clear what one is listening to. A better
job in the liner notes would make this music a bit more understandable;
it is not common to record music in this way, and to not indicate
what the different movements are.
Nevertheless, this is music to sit back, listen
to and enjoy. The subtle interplay of the instruments gives
the entire ensemble a key role in this music. This is not just
music for violin and accompanying instruments, but often more
like trio sonatas in the counterpoint used. Gunar Letzbor’s
violin is supple and smooth; he plays with a perfect tone and
uses vibrato with great subtlety.
Viviani’s melodies range from energetic Vivaldian
romps to more sinuous, sensual airs that are full of emotion.
This music evokes a certain feeling, a sense of peace and calm,
a sense of plenitude. There is an ideal balance between the
melody and emotion, and the music carries away the listener.
This recording by a little-known Italian composer
is a real gem. The performance, the music and the recording
are all impeccable, and this music gives such enjoyment that
it deserves to be heard by all.