Zani: Divertimenti for violin and cello

Lena Neudauer violin, Martin Rummel cello
117:41 (2 CDs)
Capriccio C5264

For any composer new to me I turn first to my trusty Grove  before reading the booklet notes. Zani (1696-1767), a contemporary of the Baroque ‘greats’, was born in Italy but spent much of his time in Vienna. His music, although conventional in style, bears little resemblance to the Italian Vivaldian style. The booklet claims these twelve Divertimenti  to be the first works for this combination in which the two instruments are treated as equal partners, rather than the cello acting mainly as the bass line. Certainly this is minimal chamber music, and I felt the need for a little continuo at times to fill out the sparse texture – for any double stopping was a rare occurrence in Zani’s writing. This is neat playing from these two accomplished performers, if at times perhaps a little too spiky for my taste. Only the hardy might wish to hear all twelve works at one sitting, but they are nevertheless an interesting addition to the chamber repertoire of the period and would complement Rummel’s recent recording of the complete cello concerti of this composer. The booklet notes do not say whether these works correspond to either of the opus numbers given in the Grove works list for the same combination (given there as Sonate da Camera  or just Sonate), or whether these Divertimenti are a newly discovered set. The notes do, however, give helpful stylistic guidance on the music. For those who delight in collecting musical trivia, the notes mention that Zani died as a result of a coach turning over – rivalling Alkan’s noted bookcase death some 200 years later.

Ian Graham-Jones