- Sonata for 2 violins & viola da brazzo, Op. 10/2
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This release by the Concerto Italiano and its leader, Rinaldo Alessandrini, is less outwardly startling than the group's high-octane, opera-influenced recordings of late-Baroque instrumental music. But it is no less ambitious, and anyone with a serious interest in the Baroque will want to own it. The booklet notes included with the CD release are rather diffuse, but it seems that Alessandrini's basic aim here is to explore a neglected line of Baroque string ensemble music and show how practices that persisted into the 18th century had their roots in the dawn of the Baroque and even before. Indeed, none of the music here was composed in the year 1600. But all of it reflected a new emancipation of ensemble music that took place around that time. The pieces heard here are played by two violins, a viola, a cello, and a continuo with theorbo and keyboard (a string quartet with continuo, in essence). Beginning the program with single-movement pieces of various types, Alessandrini shows how later composers like Giovanni Legrenzi, Giovanni Bononcini, Giuseppe Torelli, and Evaristo dall'Abaco assembled these into multi-movement sonatas or sinfonias. The types include the learned contrapuntal piece, as displayed in fugal writing or in the weird dissonances of Giovanni de Macque's "Consonanze stravaganti" (Extravagant Consonances), the dance piece, and the quasi-vocal allegro or slow melody. This offers a whole new way of looking at the evolution of the multi-movment ensemble sonata. One might object that if the orchestra plays the earlier and later pieces in the same style, of course they will sound as though they're historically linked, but in any event Alessandrini has unearthed some rare music here and come up with a convincing way to present it. Naïve's engineering is up to its usual high standard.