Panclassics PC 10368
This is music from the remarkable musical melting-pot of the early 17th century, where composers in a number of European countries were experimenting in a flurry of invention with the potential of the solo Baroque violin. Springing from Mantua at the period when many would still remember the premiere of Monteverdi’s Orfeo, Farina traveled Europe, working and performing in many of the great musical centers, settling in Vienna long enough to publish a set of sonatas and canzonas for various members of the violin family. A collection of this kind stands or falls on the skills of the violin soloist – fortunately Leila Schayegh has a stunning technique, a developed sense of musicality and a natural affinity with this repertoire. Opening with an unaccompanied Fantasia by Steffan Nau, Schayegh takes us on an engrossing tour of the repertoire, alternating Farina’s music with pieces by his contemporaries Michelangelo Rossi, Pietro Melli, and Frantz (?). At some points, the performers move seamlessly from track to track, giving the CD a lovely organic quality, while the interweaving of works for different instrumentations among Farina’s violin works provides a pleasing degree of aural variety. I wrote earlier that we are very much in the hands of the violin soloist in this sort of exploration, and I can say with confidence that Leila Schayegh is the most persuasive advocate of this repertoire that one could hope to find. In her eloquent performances the music seems to speak directly to us, as she uses all the communicative potential of the Baroque violin to bring this music vividly to life – a powerful case indeed for the use of period instruments, particularly when they are in the hands of such a consummate player. I should, however, not neglect to mention her three fellow musicians, Jörg Halubek on keyboards, Daniele Caminiti on archlute and Jonathan Pesek on cello and gamba, who provide subtle but consistently sympathetic accompaniment as well as each taking their turn in the solo spotlight.
D. James Ross