la festa musicale
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The 12 concertos for four to nine instruments of Venturini’s op 1 were published around 1713 in Amsterdam by the eminent music publisher Estienne Roger. At times they are reminiscent of Vivaldi’s concerti con molti strumenti, but also look forward to the concerti grossi of the high Baroque, including those of Handel. This is scarcely surprising as the two composers’ paths crossed as the upwardly-mobile Handel briefly occupied the post of Kapellmeister at Hanover, where Venturini subsequently spent most of his working life in that same post. If Venturini had perhaps been ten years younger and had – like Handel – been lured to London, his reputation nowadays might have been very different. As these beautifully crafted and vividly recorded performances attest, he was a composer of enormous talent and imagination, with a prescient approach to colourful orchestration and a wonderful ‘Handelian’ ear for melody. It is fortunate that the Court of Hanover offered him orchestral forces that allowed him to realise fully his ambitious textures, which he combines and contrasts with effortless skill and flamboyance. In addition to performing three of the op 1 Concerti, la festa musicale have sought out and provide premiere recordings of two further works, a five-part overture and a six-part concerto from Swedish sources to further enhance our impression of Venturini’s music. Imaginative use of percussion and sound effects, most notably in the spine-chilling account of the Furies Presto in op 1 no 11, serve further to bring Venturini’s music to life. Although more conservative in texture, the six-part concerto for two solo violins and strings features some surprising and adventurous harmonic progressions.
D. James Ross