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Francesco MANCINI (1762-1737)
Sonata VI in B flat major [8:17]
Sonata IV in A minor [8:40]
Sonata X in B minor [8:05]
Sonata XII in G major [8:29]
Sonata XI in G minor [9:37]
Sonata I in D minor [8:49]
Sonata II in E minor [8:16]
Sonata V in D major [7:31]
Tempesta di Mare (Gwyn Roberts (alto recorder, voice flute, flauto traverso); Richard Stone (archlute, theorbo, guitar); Adam Pearl (harpsichord, organ); Lisa Terry (cello))
rec. 18-20 June 2013, Leith Symington Griswold Hall, Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
CHANDOS CHACONNE CHAN0801 [68:01]

No, not Henry Mancini - Francesco Mancini, so no Pink Panthers to be found here. This is a substantial collection of sonatas published in London in 1724 and further evidence of the fashion for Italian music in the English capital in the days of King George I and George Frederic Handel. Each consisting of four movements, these Sonatas follow the model established by Corelli. They have plenty of Neapolitan influence, with minor-key slow movement moods and the kind of vocal melodic style which would have been familiar to opera audiences of the time.
 
The musicians of Tempesta di Mare have been recording this kind of repertoire for many years, and you may have come across their Lute Concerti of Silvius Leopold Weiss (see review), orchestral music of Johann Friedrich Fasch (see review) or cantatas and chamber music of Alessandro Scarlatti (see review). Mancini's Solos for a flute may not shake your world to its foundations, but there is good fun to be had in the variety brought to the instrumentation in these performances. The final Allegro spicatto of Sonata IV has quite a swinging pizzicato from the cello for instance, the contrast between recorder and traverso between Sonata X and Sonata XII is subtle but distinctive, and the gentler plucking of a theorbo over a small organ gives the more percussive sound of the harpsichord a rest in Sonata XI. I'm more a fan of the traverso than the recorder, but Gwyn Roberts's delightfully expressive playing convinces in both. If you are wondering what a 'voice flute' is then it is same as a recorder both in looks and sound, though larger - the name apparently referring to its range, which is comparable to that of a soprano singer.
 
The Chandos recording is up to the usual very high standard, with masses of detail and a nice sense of space and atmosphere. Booklet notes by Guido Olivieri are very good and supplied in English, German and French. There aren't many discs of Francesco Mancini's music around, though there are a few competitors, such as Tripla Concordia on the Brilliant Classics label (see review) which has all 12 recorder sonatas but a less appealing vibrato from the recorder player. This selection from Tempesta di Mare is a very nice way to fill a gap in anyone's collection.
 
Dominy Clements