Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere

Special Offer
Complete Chopin
17 discs
Pre-order for £100


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Works for Voice by György Kurtág


Best Seller

Symphony for solo piano

Chopin Piano Concerto No.1

Schubert Piano sonata

Schubert symphony No. 9

Katherine Watson (Sop)

From Severn to Somme

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660 - 1725)
12 Sinfonie di concerto grosso (1715)
Corina Marti (recorder)
Giuseppe Frau (trumpet)
Ann Allen (recorder, oboe)
Capella Tiberina/Alexandra Nigito
rec. 21-24 January, 7-9 July 2014, Christkatholische Kirche, Möhlin, Switzerland. DDD
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94658 [44:32 + 44:15]

Alessandro Scarlatti was one of the leading composers in Italy in the decades around 1700. His reputation was founded on his operas, serenatas, oratorios, liturgical works and especially his chamber cantatas. It is notable that he almost exclusively confined himself to vocal music and composed hardly any instrumental works. Why did he turn to the genre of the concerto at a relatively old age? He was 50 when he started the composition of these Sinfonie di concerto grosso in 1715.

That title is not quite correct. It is only the first concerto which uses the words concerto grosso, whereas the second is called Sinfonia Concertata Con li ripieni. The other concertos have no titles at all. Eight of them are in fact solo concertos for recorder. Only the remaining four can be considered concerti grossi as they include two solo parts, for recorder and either a second recorder (Nos. 1 and 5), an oboe (No. 4) or a trumpet (No. 2). Every concerto in the set has a separate cello part which is distinct from the basso continuo part.

The separate parts are collected under the title 12 Sinfonias and Concertos. That could give us a clue as to the reasons why Scarlatti started to compose them. Several composers of the time published collections under such a title, and as domestic music-making was becoming increasingly popular he may have seen an opportunity to raise his income. Unfortunately they were never published. They have been preserved in two manuscripts which are now in the British Library. Was it Scarlatti's intention to have them published in London? Quite possible, because Italian music was very popular in England, and so was the recorder. This could have been the reason he gave this instrument such an important role, especially considering that he didn't like wind instruments which he said were unbearably out of tune.

These concertos are in five movements: fast - slow - fast - slow - fast. The exceptions are No. 4 which omits the opening fast movement and No. 9 the last movement of which is followed by a menuet. These are not solo concertos of the kind we know from Vivaldi. Scarlatti didn't adhere to the ritornello form. The solo part is fully integrated into the ensemble. It is especially in the slow movements that the recorder - in four concertos joined by the second solo instrument - has the opportunity to shine.

Although Scarlatti was a seasoned composer of music for the theatre there are few dramatic features in these concertos. Alessandro Lattanzi, in his liner-notes, sees some similarity between the opening and closing movements and the opera sinfonias. The recorder parts are not virtuosic; that seems to confirm that Scarlatti had the amateur market in mind while composing these concertos.

The concertos featured here are not that well known. I am aware of only one complete recording: by the Accademia della Magnifica Comunità (Tactus, 2002/2007; two separate discs). The performances are good, but they perform the tutti with one instrument per part. However, two concertos include indications of a distinction between soli and tutti or of ripieni which seems to point in the direction of performance with a larger ensemble.

Some years ago Corina Marti and the Capella Tiberina delighted us with the complete recording of the twelve recorder concertos by Francesco Mancini, another Neapolitan composer of a later generation (review). This new production is just as enjoyable as the Mancini set. Ms Marti is a very fine player and the ensemble acts on the same level. This recording makes one regret that Scarlatti didn't compose much more for instrumental ensemble.

Johan van Veen

Works listing
Sinfonia No. 1 in F [5:46]
Sinfonia No. 2 in D 'Concertata con li ripieni' [7:26]
Sinfonia No. 3 in d minor [7:27]
Sinfonia No. 4 in e minor [7:06]
Sinfonia No. 5 in d minor [8:06]
Sinfonia No. 6 in a minor [7:13]
Sinfonia No. 7 in g minor [6:51]
Sinfonia No. 8 in G [6:18]
Sinfonia No. 9 in g minor [8:19]
Sinfonia No. 10 in a minor [7:16]
Sinfonia No. 11 in C [7:13]
Sinfonia No. 12 in c minor 'La geniale' [8:51]


We are currently offering in excess of 52,619 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger