This CD has certainly nothing to do with the famous bicycle race held every year in Italy, but is a far more exciting and richly varied journey through the Italian music of the 18th century. Venice, Burano, Bergamo, Milan, Lucca and Naples are the destinations, and as we pass from one piece to another, we are constantly experiencing new delights and discoveries.
Vivaldi (1678-1741) set new standards with his instrumental works, and his idea of a contrasting alternation between solo and tutti passages is also amply recognizable in Giuseppe Sammartini's (1695-1750) famous recorder concerto and in Luigi Boccherini's (1743-1805) captivating cello concerto. Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785) was an excellent contrapuntist and his works get along nicely despite their lack of solos. He employs an ensemble of equal parts of which his C minor Concerto is a prime example. Although Francesco Mancini's (1672-1737) concerto scheme is not similar to Vivaldi's, there is much that resembles the latter's style. In the D minor Sonata, Mancini displays an expert fugue composition, placing huge demands on all the ensemble sections. Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695-1764) was an important violin virtuoso and contrapuntist, and all these abilities are much in evidence in the concluding part of his D Major Trio Sonata, a work that anticipates the young Haydn with its richness of tone.
Musica Alta Ripa - whose joint venture with MD&G for the last 15 years has borne much fruit - perform with ineffable virtuosity and breezy élan, and in their hands the music's unifying brilliance is brought out with telling effect. This is another fine issue in the best MD&G tradition.
Copyright © 2010, Gerald Fenech.