Francesca Boncompagni, Accademia Ottoboni, Marco Ceccato
Alpha Classics 406
Giovanni Lorenzo Lulier flourished in the burgeoning music scene of late 17th-century Rome, moved in the privileged musical circle surrounding Cardinal Ottoboni, and undoubtedly rubbed shoulders with the likes of Corelli and Sir John Clerk of Penicuik. His secular cantatas and sonatas would be pretty unexceptional early Baroque fare, except for the unusual prominence given to the cello, for which he writes with genuine vision and striking originality. In the Sonata in D major for violin, cello and basso continuo, for example, the cello very much duets on equal terms with the violin, while in the cantatas it steps forward from its continuo role to interact dynamically with the voice. In the Accademia Ottoboni, the cellist Marco Ceccato is also significantly the director of the ensemble, and his plangent cello tone is a constant presence in this programme. The playing of the instrumental ensemble is wonderfully idiomatic and delicately ornamented, while the vocal contribution of Francesca Boncompagni is technically impressive and beautifully dramatized. I found the recorded sound a little ‘toppy’ and brittle, but nothing to disturb the enjoyment of this interesting repertoire. This revelatory CD emphasizes the point that in Italy at the turn of the 17th century, there were dozens of musical circles similar to Cardinal Ottoboni’s each boasting several fine composers contributing to a truly vast body of fine instrumental and vocal music.
D. James Ross
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