Venetian Cello Sonatas

Under the Shade of Vivaldi
Gaetano Nasillo cello, Anna Fontana harpsichord, Sara Bennici cello, Evangelina Mascardi theorbo
77:24
ARCANA A465
Sonatas by Girolamo Bassani, Bigaglia, B. Marcello, Martinelli, Platti, Stratico, Vandini & Vivaldi

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The tireless Gaetano Nasillo, featured as soloist on a couple of the CDs in the Naples boxed set I reviewed earlier, continues his exploration of Italian Baroque cello sonatas with this CD of sonatas by composers resident in Venice. The CD is subtitled ‘under the shade of Vivaldi’, and it is true that many of the composers languish in relative obscurity compared to the ubiquitous Red Priest. That is not to say that their music is in any way inferior, and indeed most of it is strikingly imaginative and original. Just as a tourist visit to Venice nowadays gives the impression that the city only had one real composer and all he wrote were The Four Seasons, the recording industry has been slow to explore the rich musical context in which Vivaldi operated, and it is good to see Girolamo Bassani, Giovanni Benedetto Platti, Diogenio Bigaglia, Antonio Martinelli and Michele Stratico being given a moment in the sun beside their more august fellow residents, Marcello and Vivaldi. Gaetano Nasillo’s superb Baroque cello technique and intimate knowledge of the Italian music of this period make him an authoritative guide to this affable repertoire, and he is ably supported throughout by his continuo team. While it is hard to hear any link with the previous generation of Venetian musicians, it is clear that the Venetian school of cello composition is distinctively different from the Neapolitan one Nasillo has previously explored, although both were clearly seminal to the subsequent development of the cello as a solo instrument.

D. James Ross