Assassini, assassinati

Works by Pandolfi Mealli, Stradella, Albertini and Castaldi
Repicco 60:43
Ambronay AMY 308

Repicco consists of Baroque violinist Kinga Ujszászi and theorbist Jadran Duncrumb. They have devised the present programme of music from the 17th century by pairing two composers who were murderers with two others who were murdered. At first I thought this was quite a gratuitous way to link these composers, as the two victims were not even the victims of the two murderers, but – on listening to the music and reading the short biographies of the four men – it seemed they had one thing in common, a love of danger, and this character feature comes across in much of the music. Ironically, it is the man who seems from his biographical details to have been the wildest of this musical wild bunch, Bellerofonte Castaldi, who contributes a very mild-mannered short sonata and a tuneful Furiosa corrente  to proceedings. The fiery and impetuous idiom of the others, by contrast, seems symptomatic of their violent and lawless behaviour.

However they may have gathered this repertoire, Repicco play it with great musicality and virtuosity, while the full sound of the theorbo had me constantly having to remind myself that there was just one player and one instrument providing the continuo. In addition to the catalogue of murderers and the murdered, Biagio Marini earns an honorary place on the CD by virtue of the ‘extravagance of his music’, while violinist Kinga Ujszászi contributes a perfectly pleasant but rather irrelevant improvisation at one point. If the linking principle is a bit of a gimmick, it is a good excuse for the very effective performance of an unusual selection of excellent 17th-century music.

D. James Ross

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