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Andrea ZANI (1696-1757)
Divertimenti (1734)
Lena Neudauer (violin)
Martin Rummel (cello)
rec. 9-11 December 2014, 4tune Studio, Vienna, Austria
CAPRICCIO C5264 [42:56 + 44:31]

This release follows on from Martin Rummel’s recording of Andrea Zani’s Cello Concertos (review). Zani is largely unknown today and this is connected to a lack of publication, his music having mainly been preserved in manuscript form and remaining hidden in libraries throughout Europe, possibly with more yet to be discovered. Zani’s origins were in the province of Cremona, and after a few years spent in Vienna in the service of nobility – during which he would have written these Divertimenti – he returned to his native Casalmaggiore. Collectors of unusual deaths of composers can add Zani to their list, as he apparently died as the result of an accident when the carriage in which he was travelling overturned.

The claim made for these Divertimenti is that they are the earliest works with this instrumentation in which the violin and cello parts enjoy equal rights. The musical dialogue is indeed striking from the outset, with a touch of Vivaldi’s influence around some of the music’s features in the opening Ninth Divertimento but more in the sense of fashionable style than in slavish imitation. Other reference points indicate that these pieces inhabit that world between the Baroque and early Classical – the fields occupied by Bach’s sons for instance – but more important is the enforced economy of means with just two instruments. There are plenty of sequences, repeated motiefs either rising or descending, but the ever inventive Zani rises to the challenge of making this combination as interesting as possible by making the parts a sheer delight to play. What one performer delivers the other is sure to take up, and these lively interactions in the fast movements contrasting with sublime simplicity in the slow make these works much more entertaining than you might expect.

Lena Neudauer and Martin Rummel communicate their joy in performing these works, and their vibrant and expressive playing makes for compelling listening. The studio recording is very good, with plenty of detail but not too close for comfort. There is presumably a light sprinkling of added reverberation effect but even if this is the case it has been kept to a discreet minimum and adds the barest hint of a halo around the instruments. Andrea Zani’s Divertimenti may not shake your world to its foundations, but they have been a delight to discover and should become a popular choice for this instrumental combination.

Dominy Clements

Divertimento No. 1 in D Major [8:28]
Divertimento No. 2 in G Major [7:28]
Divertimento No. 3 in C Major [7:35]
Divertimento No. 4 in A Major [7:16]
Divertimento No. 5 in E Major [7:23]
Divertimento No. 6 in B Flat Major [7:22]
Divertimento No. 7 in G Minor [7:20]
Divertimento No. 8 in C Minor [7:02]
Divertimento No. 9 in A Minor [5:59]
Divertimento No. 10 in B Minor [6:05]
Divertimento No. 11 in D Minor [8:05]
Divertimento No. 12 in F Minor [7:11]



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