Carlo Graziani: Six Sonatas

Armoniosa, Stefano Cerrato
88:29 (2 CDs in a jewel case)
Rubicon RCD1018
4454

Born in Asti in Piedmont around 1710, Carlo Graziani spent his life touring Europe, sharing his enthusiasm for the cello and soaking up a wealth of stylistic influences, which he incorporated into his compositions, including this op 3 set of cello sonatas recorded here complete on two CDs. Primarily designed to show off his mastery of the instrument, they seem to me rather humdrum fare with occasional moments of lyrical or technical felicity, such as the inventive use of high harmonics. The present performances are very effective, although to my ear the recorded sound is a little bit dead and favours the incidental sounds of the player (deep breathing and other extraneous noises) over the tone of the solo cello. The continuo cello and harpsichord are helpfully placed back from the action, but I would have preferred a little more resonance generally. It is clear from the contemporary responses to Graziani’s playing and the prestigious Royal post he held at the Prussian court that his cello playing was a cause for much admiration, and it has to be said that whether due to the slightly dull recorded sound or Stefano Cerrato’s account of it, I was not similarly moved to enthusiasm. It also struck me that by the time Graziani died in 1787 his music must have sounded quaintly archaic.

D. James Ross