Despite the name emblazoned on the CD cover, there is some doubt
over the authorship of the six Cello Sonatas presented here
in their premiere recordings. The performers, Musica Perduta
- literally 'Lost Music' and usually styled 'Mvsica Perdvta'
- is an Italian early music ensemble. The Sonatas were part
of a group of ten uncovered by Musica Perduta in an anonymous
18th-century manuscript at the Sacred Convent library in Assisi,
Italy. Following research, Musica Perduta felt confident in
attributing them to Zuccari. He was one-time organist and choirmaster
at Assisi and author of many other works kept there, overwhelmingly
sacred but including a series of Esercizi per il Violoncello.
As yet, however, there remains the possibility that Zuccari
was copyist rather than composer.
Musica Perduta is more than a chamber ensemble. In the booklet
this collective of baroque specialists is described variously
as a "research group" and a "cultural association". It was founded
by soloist Renato Criscuolo with Valerio Losito in 2007. It
is "engaged in research [...] of unpublished or unknown musical
works of distinguished authors and composers, primarily of the
17th and 18th centuries who [...] deserve to be re-valued."
Musica Perduta subsequently perform such re-discovered works
and, as here, record them for posterity.
These are then historically authentic performances by Musica
Perduta. This can be heard from their superb-sounding period
instruments (originals, restorations or reproductions) to their
sensitive and detailed observance of technique - which is, however,
never mannered. The different textures provided by the thoughtfully
varied basso continuo - whether violone, theorbo, double bass,
harpsichord or organ - add subtle yet rich colours and depth
to what is already imaginative solo writing. Cheerfully melodic,
luxuriating often in its own unpretentious virtuosity, Zuccari's
music is reminiscent at times of Vivaldi, but not as a second-rate
imitator. The Sonatas more or less follow the same Corellian
sonata da chiesa model, four movements of a slow-fast-slow-fast
pattern, with most material in the second.
Sound quality is very good indeed. These days, Brilliant's engineers
reliably outperform those of so many bigger labels by some distance.
Criscuolo's breathing is unnecessarily noisy at times, but hardly
a major annoyance. The unattributed Italian-English booklet
notes are fairly brief but informative, if sometimes tautological.
The English translation is not by any means perfect, but it
would be churlish to dwell on it in what is, from composer to
ensemble to audio to price, an all but exemplary product.
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk