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CD Review

Luigi Gatti

Chamber Music

  • Sestetto in E Flat Major
  • Serenata in D Major
Calamus Ensemble
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG6031589-2 62mins
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The son of an organist Luigi Gatti was born in Lazise in 1740. As a child, he began his training as a singer, composer and conductor at the Seminary in Mantua. It was also in Mantua that he was ordained as a priest and gathered a sizeable experience as a musician. As time went by, it seems that Gatti was more interested in music than in his priestly cassock, and he went on to enjoy a career in many important venues such as La Scala. By the time he was in his 40's he travelled to the north of the Alps, where until his death in 1817 he was employed as the court music director of the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg.

The Ostiglia Music Library lists some 150 surviving works which include many orchestral and chamber pieces of a very high quality, but these have come down to us with many inkblots and corrections, and sometimes the task to decipher Gatti's original ideas is none too easy. Notwithstanding this obstacle, the two works on this recording give ample proof of Gatti's composing abilities and his penchant for melody and harmonic structure.

The 1790 "Sestetto" for English horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello & double bass is a little "sinfonia concertante" in which, in Haydn's manner, the violin, cello, English horn and bassoon constantly alternate in solo interplay. The "Serenata" for oboe, bassoon, 2 horns and string quintet is, likewise, a superbly written piece, offering the soloists ample opportunity to showcase their brilliance in the many virtuoso passages.

Founded by renowned soloists and professors in 1985, the Calamus Ensemble have a recording history of excellence and dedication in the service of obscure composers and this issue is a further confirmation of their expressive qualities and magical ensemble playing. An exciting rediscovery, performed with a lively freshness that is infectious throughout.

Copyright © 2010, Gerald Fenech.