Mascitti: Sonate a violino solo e basso, opera ottava

Mascitti violin sonatas on two discs op 8 and op 9

Gian Andrea Guerra violin, Nicola Brovelli cello, Matteo Cicchitti violone, Luigi Accardo harpsichord
77:00
Arcana A111
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Mascitti: Sonate a violino solo e basso, Opera Nona
Quartetto Vantivelli (Gian Andrea Guerra violin, Nicola Brovelli cello, Mauro Pinciaroli archlute, Luigi Accardo harpsichord)
68:43
Arcana A473
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By the time he published his 12 sonatas for violin and continuo, opus 8, in Paris in 1731, Michele Mascitti was 67 years old and already well established in the Parisian musical scene as a composer and performer. Originating in a musical family in Naples, Mascitti had found his milieu in Paris in the early 18th century, where his playing won him considerable acclaim in courtly and then mercantile circles. The sonatas are pleasantly tuneful, and effortlessly combine elements of the French and Italian schools. Here we hear eight of the original set of twelve, played stylishly in the mannerist manner by the Quartetto Vanvitelli, who, in recording the majority of both these printed sets of sonatas, have clearly become very familiar with Mascitti’s rather laid-back but entertaining idiom.

Michele Mascitti’s opus 9 sonatas are something of a summing-up of the composer’s varied career to 1738 – he would live a further twenty years dying at the extraordinary age of 96. These sonatas, again eight of a set of twelve, speak of melodic assurance and originality – perhaps the secret of their enduring popularity is that they are essentially never too demanding on performers or audience, and yet never seem to lapse into cliché or formula. They are played here with considerable elegance and musicality by violinist Gian Andrea Guerra, ably supported by his continuo team. Towards the end of his long life, Mascitti gave up composition – perhaps, like Sibelius, he had just said all he wanted to say, but I would like to think that, like Rossini, he simply found time for the many other pleasures of life. That is certainly the frame of mind that this avuncular, easy-going music seems to suggest. It is this relaxed ambience, which the Quartetto Vanvitelli captures perfectly in their performances on both these CDs.

D. James Ross