Vitali: Partite, Sonate op. 13

Italico Splendore
Tactus TC 632204

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This is, as they say, a disc of two halves: the first is devoted to 10 partite (or sets of divisions on popular basses) per il violone played on cello, the second beginning with two sonatas from the composer’s op. 13 set then another eight partite.

The fact that Vitali identifies each by a letter of the alphabet (which tells guitar players which chords to play, or here gives an indication of the piece’s home key) justifies the performers’ decision to fill out the original manuscripts’ solo lines. I understand that this is wise, given that an hour of variations on even more than one theme would be hard work, yet I find it difficult to justify the way the keyboardist shifts from one instrument to another between variations, or the (surely unnecessary anyway) cello switches from bowing one variation to plucking the next, and ludicrous to hear two instruments just playing unison.

Vitali’s music is definitely worth hearing and it is not at all surprising that he had a successful career and his published output frequently ran to multiple reprints. The musicians of Italico Splendore have clearly engaged with Vitali’s creative spirit but, for me, they have over-egged the cake – if you can bear track 20, you’ll enjoy the rest!

Brian Clark

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