One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

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

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Préalable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


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

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

WYASTONE releases

The Birth of Rhapsody in Blue
A superlative recreation

such a success

An outstanding performance

make acquaintance without delay

Violin Concerto
This is an impressive disc

Strong advocacy
for a British composer

Piano Music - Martin Jones
agreeably crafted

Piano Music 5CDs

Consistently fine

Rare and interesting repertoire

An excellent introduction

A Celebration on Record

An issue of importance

A splendid disc

both enlightening and rewarding
additional review


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Nicola Antonio PORPORA (1686-1768)/Giovanni Battista COSTANZI (1704-1778)
6 Cello Sonatas
Sonata No. 1 in C [9:20]
Sonata No. 2 in g minor [9:13]
Sonata No. 3 in G [9:16]
Sonata No. 4 in B [9:02]
Sonata No. 5 in c minor [10:20]
Sonata No. 6 in G [9:20]
Adriano Maria Fazio (cello [solo])
Katarzyna Solecka (violin), Anna Camporini (cello [bc]), Pedro Alcacer (theorbo), Lorenzo Profita (harpsichord)
rec. March 2016, Cappella Sclafani - Basilica San Francisco d'Assisi, Palermo, Italy DDD

Nicola Antonio Porpora was one of the main composers of operas and cantatas of the mid-18th century. His fame brought him to several places in Europe, such as Vienna, Dresden and London. In the latter city he became one of the main rivals of Handel, composing music for the stage for the Opera of the Nobility. He also worked for some time in Venice, but he died in Naples, the place of his birth. Apart from being famous as a composer, he was a reputed singing teacher. Among his pupils were some of the most celebrated castratos, Farinelli and Caffarello.

A look at the work-list in New Grove reveals that the instrumental part of his oeuvre is negligible. It seems that the sonatas which are recorded by Adriano Maria Fazio and his colleagues are not included in that list. The title page of this disc mentions another name: Giovanni Battista Costanzi. He was from a later generation and was born in Rome. There he worked all his life and enjoyed the patronage of Cardinal Ottoboni. He was educated as a cellist, but although his extant oeuvre includes some music for his own instrument he was especially famous for his vocal works, first secular dramatic compositions, later religious music.

On the title page these sonatas are announced as cello sonatas. Strictly speaking that is not correct; the fact that the ensemble includes a violin points in that direction. Actually these sonatas are trio sonatas for violin, cello and bc. However, they are different from what one probably expects from a trio sonata. In the oeuvre of Pietro Antonio Locatelli - contemporary of Porpora - one also finds a trio sonata for the rather unusual combination of violin and cello, but these are treated in a different way. In these sonatas by Porpora the two instruments don't play that often together. There is hardly any counterpoint, as one would expect in trio sonatas. It is mostly one of the instruments which starts the proceedings in a movement, and after a while the other instrument takes over, often imitating phrases of the previous instrument. Some slow movements are for the cello alone, without any participation of the violin. The structure of these sonatas is the classical Corellian model: four movements in the order slow - fast - slow - fast. But that is where the similarity stops.

Especially in regard to the connection between the two instruments these sonatas are highly unusual. That makes this disc a worthwhile addition to the discography. It is very disappointing that the liner-notes give so little information about things one would like to know. We are only told that Costanzi "made his technique available to the author [of these sonatas], in order for the notation to be suitable for his instrument". That's all. The entries on Porpora and Costanzi in New Grove are of no help. It is notable that in the article on Porpora Costanzi is not mentioned at all; in fact, Porpora's instrumental works are completely ignored in the discussion of his output. At the same time, Porpora is not mentioned in the article on Costanzi.

What was Costanzi's role: did he give only technical information or did he have any part in the compositional process? Did Porpora compose these sonatas especially for Costanzi? Considering that the latter worked all his life in Rome it seems likely that they have met there. Were the sonatas written before Porpora's stay in London? It is interesting that Porpora, when he was in London, composed cantatas for the Prince of Wales who was an avid player of the cello. This explains why they include obbligato cello parts and that could be an indication that Porpora and Costanzi met before the former went to London.

The lack of information is a serious shortcoming. Not only do the liner-notes fail to provide the listener with substantial information about the connection between the two composers, there is not much about the music itself either. In addition, the liner-notes are so badly translated into English that they are sometimes hardly intelligible.

Fortunately the performances are much better. Adriano Maria Fazio is a very fine player who deals well with the virtuosity of the fast movements and the cantabile character of the slow movements. Katarzyna Solecka is his equal partner at the violin. Because of the unusual texture of these sonatas as well as the engaging performances by these artists this disc is well worth investigating.

Johan van Veen



We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 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

a vibrant slice of life

stylistically assured

About Every Hill and Valley
Swedish Songs

Hallberg and Dente
interesting and most welcome

An inspired partnership
additional review

A valuable document

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