Vitali: Sonate a due violini op. 9, 1684

Italico Splendore
Tactus TC 632207

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Giovanni Battista Vitali spent the most fruitful years of his life at the Este court of Modena, and it is in the Bibioteca Estense that the bulk of his music survives, albeit in the case of his op 9 in manuscript only and in a fragmentary state at that. A degree of reconstruction has been necessary to allow these recordings to take place. Vitali’s compositions played an important role in establishing the trio sonata as a classic Baroque chamber genre, as well as raising the profile of the cello, which was apparently his principal instrument. His early publications enjoyed frequent reprints, so it is doubly puzzling that the op 9 church sonatas survive only in a single damaged manuscript copy. In these compositions, we can see Vitali experimenting more extensively with chromaticism in a way that influenced Torelli and Corelli, and even Purcell, suggesting that the op 9 was at some point more widely available and more widely disseminated than the single surviving copy at first suggests. These performances are fresh and idiomatic, drawing attention to Vitali’s musical originality and ready imagination.

D. James Ross

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