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Quattro Violini a Venezia
Clematis / Brice Sailly, Stéphanie de Failly
rec. 2018, Église Notre-Dame de Centeilles, Siran, Occitanie, France
RICERCAR RIC404 [64:35]

I would advocate reading the exemplary booklet essay by Jérôme Lejeune first, as he not only discusses the composers featured on this disc, but also gives us a pertinent history lesson in which he maps the development of the violin and its etymology. He firmly places the composers and their music on the timeline of Venetian musical development during the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth centuries.

The music itself is a wonderful snapshot of the cultural development of the period, with some of the biggest names in the musical world featured here along with lesser known, but equally compelling composers. People like Buonamente, Castello and Fontana, who whilst new names to me, and I dare say to many others, certainly earn their places on this disc with attractive music of real worth. Whilst Giovanni Gabrieli is the real star here - he is certainly the name that most will recognise - this is music is not the usual Gabrieli fare; this Canzon celebrating the sound of the violin is a world away from the glorious celebratory brass and choral works. The Sonata follows on in a similar, if a more subdued, vein. I particularly enjoyed the two Uccellini pieces; the way that he blends the sound of the strings over the bass continuo is superb.

Salomone Rossi was probably the leading Jewish composer of his day; his music evidenced both the Italian and Jewish traditions. It is his vocal music which I know best, so I was eager to hear these instrumental works and I was not disappointed. Here we have two fine examples of Venetian music of the period, this despite Rossi being more associated with Mantua, one of the birthplaces of the Italian violin tradition. Similarly, Biagio Marini was not a native of Venice, but travelled widely through Europe honing his skills, including a time in the group of musicians that Monteverdi drew around himself at St. Mark’s Cathedral. He eventually settled in Venice, where he was to die; his music as presented here shows class and originality. Another composer associated with Monteverdi was Francesco Cavalli, who became one of the great man’s students. His Canzon a 3, 2 violini e violoncino is quite wonderful and forms a brilliant conclusion to this disc.

This is a wonderfully entertaining disc, depicting the early history of Venetian violin music. As such, it is a most valuable addition to any collection of baroque Italian music. This is especially true when one takes in to account the performance of Clematis under its dual directorship of Brice Sailly and Stéphanie de Failly. Their playing is excellent throughout, something which is aided by a sympathetic acoustic and warm recorded sound. As I have already stated, Jérôme Lejeune’s booklet essay is exemplary, making this a most recommendable release.

Stuart Sillitoe

Mario UCCELLINI (1603-1680)
Sinfonia decima settima a quatro violini [3:02]
Giovanni GABRIELI (c. 1555-1612)
Canzon II a 6 [4:03]
Biagio MARINI (1587-1665)
Sonata quarta per sonar con due corde [7:44]
Salomone ROSSI (1570-1630)
Sinfonia quinta [1:39]
Sonata quattro [3:39]
Sonata XXI con tre violini [4:41]
Sonata in Ecco con tre violini [5:19]
Canzon prima per quattro violini [3:02]
Giovanni B. BUONAMENTE (c. 1595-1642)
Sonata prima a quattro violini [6:19]
Giovanni B. FONTANA (1589-1630)
Sonata 16 a tre violini [5:21]
Dario CASTELLO (1602-1630)
Sonata No. 17 in ecco [7:51]
Capriccio per sonare il violino con tre corde a modo di lira [2:51]
Sinfonia decima nona a tre violini [2:43]
Frncesco CAVALLI (1602-1676)
Canzon a 3, 2 violini e violoncino [6:18]

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