…Both Banchini and Bovi deliver exceptionally refined performances throughout the album. Bovi's voice is pure, elegant, and perfectly suited for music of this time. Banchini's tone on the Baroque violin is, appropriately, every bit as vocal and singing as the soprano arias. Taken all together, this album is much more than an ordinary CD that is popped in the player and listened to from beginning to end, but rather, an all-encompassing experience that truly transports listeners to another place and time. Unconditionally recommended.
Born in Brescia around 1571, Giovanni Battista Fontana lived in Venice, Rome and Padua, where he died during the plague of 1630. His music surprises by the mastery of counterpoint, the simplicity and the expression of its slow movements, the complexity of its ornamentation and the elegant vivacity of its short dance sections. Nicknamed 'dal Violino' and described as "one of the most singular virtuosos the age has seen". Fontana has left us an outstanding example of early Baroque instrumental music. On this release, Daniel Cuiller leads the ensemble Stradivaria in a selection of sonatas.
With a pattern of recording solo albums which has been positively frugal over the last 20 years, Mara Galassi marks her return on Glossa with a new and striking programme, entitled Portrait of a Lady with Harp. The ambiance into which the noted modernday harpist from Milan plunges the listener is that of the court of Queen Christina of Sweden who, on renouncing her throne, converting to Catholicism and moving to Rome in the mid 1650s embarked upon a spectacular cultural life, becoming a patron for writers, scientists and especially musicians. Among those composers active in Rome at the time were Alessandro Stradella, Bernardo Pasquini, Arcangelo Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti, all of whom benefitted from Christina’s constant hunger for music of high quality, whether official employees at her court or not.
Italian violinist Enrico Gatti has made various recordings of the late Baroque violin repertory with Ensemble 415 and other groups, and his booklet notes, as encrusted with decorations as the music itself, are always part of the attraction. Here he holds forth, in English, French, and German translations of the original Italian, on Giuseppe Tartini's life and career, heading his reflections with an Emily Dickinson poem (unfortunately somewhat less effective in German) and diverging into such avenues as an attack on daily newspaper journalism as it pertains to Baroque music.