Montanari: Violin Concertos

Johannes Pramsohler, Ensemble Diderot
60:02
Op 1/1, 5-8, Dresden Concerto in C

Everyone knows that the great German violinist Pisendel studied in Italy with Vivaldi and took sonatas and concertos by him (and the deep influence of his compositional style!) back to Dresden, where the court orchestra became one of the most celebrated of the age. What is not so well known is that Pisendel also knew Antonio Molinari and copies out his works, too. Having already dedicated a CD to Pisendel (and included some of his music on another), Pramsohler and his expanded Ensemble Diderot now tackle five of the eight concertos printed as Molinari’s Op. 1 and another piece that only survives in the Dresden collection (only Op. 1 No. 8 has been recorded before). He lays out his (and Montanari’s stall) in programming the Dresden concerto first, clearly Roman in design but with Venetian virtuosity thrown in and sweetly played by this outstanding young violinist. Single strings with theorbo/guitar and harpsichord make for crystal clear textures and a sense of no-one playing down to let the soloist sing out – the balance is naturally right. Montanari was one of the violinists in the Roman premiere of Handel’s La Resurrezione, and the Saxon’s influence is all over the opening of Op. 1 No. 6. Following an impressive fugal movement, the other slow movement of the same work is far more original, with an inner drama that will keep you guessing. Michael Talbot’s typically informative (in an enviably readable way!) booklet ends with the hope that these very fine performances will encourage the publication of the music and a revival in Montanari’s fortunes; unfortunately – nay, frustratingly – the library that holds the original prints does not seem as keen on the idea. At least for now we can relish this delightful and this finely recorded disc.

Brian Clark