Tactus TC 632205
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CD cover of Vitali op 5 sonatas
Italico Splendore are exploring the riches of the Ducal Library of the Este family in Modena, and the present CD is devoted to the chamber music of Giovanni Vitali, who worked as maestro di cappella at the court there from 1674. Himself a virtuoso on the ‘violone da brazzo’, a forerunner of the cello/double bass, Vitali’s influence on the role of the violin as well as the standard Baroque musical forms was considerable. It is fascinating to observe in his opus 5 sonate side by side with standard trio sonatas, sonate a due (without an independent part for violone) but also sonate a quarto and a cinque. As with many composers of the second half of the 17th century, Vitali displays a freedom of thinking and a musical imagination which found itself somewhat tamed in the following century. Italico Splendore play with an easy spontaneity, with suitable episodes of bravura alternating with intensely expressive passages. The blend of solo instruments and continuo team is pleasing, and the overall sound vivid and engaging. When we reach the four- and five-part sonatas, the increasing richness of the texture is welcome. Each of the sonatas bears the name of a local aristocratic family, surely an astute way of attracting financial support for Vitali’s musical activity.
D. James Ross