Piani: 12 Sonate a Violino solo

CD cover Piani 12 Sonate a Violino solo Mencattini Labirinto Armonico

Pierluigi Mencattini, Labirinto Armonico
133:38 (2 CDs in a single jewel case)
Tactus TC 671690

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These two CDs present Giovanni Antonio Piani’s opus 1 set of 12 sonatas for solo violin and continuo printed in Paris in 1712. Piani moved from Italy to Paris in 1704 as part of the interest there in the Italian style and moves to integrate it with the native French taste. This set is the only surviving music by Piani, who went on to have a glittering career as a violin virtuoso, moving in 1721 to Vienna where he enjoyed considerable celebrity until at least 1757. Perhaps the main interest in these sonatas is the degree to which the composer manages to meld the Italian and French styles, a near obsession at the time. There are certainly elements of both flavours in Piani’s music. I have a couple of reservations about these recordings – where Piani states very clearly his very simple vision of their performance by a solo violin with cello and harpsichord continuo, the present performance draws in a whole menagerie of other instruments including double bass, archlute, organ and even a tambourine! A complete recording of twelve sonatas may suggest some liberty be taken with instrumentation in the interests of variety, but adding percussion may represent a red line. I also found the sonatas, whether due to the rather workaday playing of soloist Pierluigi Mencattini or Piani’s limited compositional skills, frankly a little predictable and dull.

D. James Ross