London Baroque - The Trio Sonata in 18th-Century Italy (2012)

Posted By: Designol
London Baroque - The Trio Sonata in 18th-Century Italy (2012)

London Baroque - The Trio Sonata in 18th-Century Italy (2012)
Albinoni, Bonporti, Vivaldi, Bononcini, Porpora, Sammartini, Locatelli, Gallo, Tartini

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 464 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 185 Mb | Scans included
Genre: Classical | Label: BIS | # BIS-CD-2015 | Time: 01:17:14

London Baroque offers another installment in its ongoing European Trio Sonata series, this time devoted to 18th-century Italy; as with the ensemble’s previous efforts the program features generally excellent performances of lesser-known repertoire. Ten years ago I reviewed a similar 18th-century Italian program by this same group titled “Stravaganze Napoletane”, also on BIS, and was generally impressed with the performances–except for one piece: Domenico Gallo’s Sonata No. 1 in G major.

Here they perform it again and unfortunately not much has changed. Although the excessive ornamentation that marred the previous recording is less evident here, the ensemble’s lugubrious, precious conception of the work is nearly identical. This astonishes me, not only in light of the international attention that Parnassi Musici received for its wonderful, influential premiere recording for CPO (reviewed for Classicstoday.com by colleague David Vernier), but even more so, given the often exhilarating, lively performances just about every other selection on this program routinely receives. And it’s this last point that should guide you in considering this recording: There is plenty to enjoy here.

London Baroque’s program-opening performance of Albinoni’s Balletto in G major features a fresh, unsentimental treatment of the composer’s characteristically slow first-movement Preludio Largo, followed by sprite deliveries of the second and third movements and a dashing Vivaldi-esque concluding Gavotta Presto. Their performance of Giuseppe Sammartini’s Sonata V is equally inspired, featuring an inordinately measured, pensive Andante sostenuto opening movement contrasting widely with the brusque rhythms of the second-movement Allegro and the often severe variations of the dance that laces the concluding Sarabanda. Locatelli’s Sonata in D major also receives a captivating, distinguished performance featuring plenty of thrilling fiddling, especially in the Allegro molto finale.

Arguably the most well known piece here is Vivaldi’s famous Op. 1 No. 12 trio sonata “La Folia”–a relatively youthful (he was 27), remarkably creative, Corelli-indebted set of variations based on the traditional Portuguese peasant dance. London Baroque expertly maneuvers through Vivaldi’s varied tempo and dynamic contrasts, in many ways rivaling my two current reference recordings by Il Giardino Armonico (Teldec) and Hesperion XXI (Alia Vox). Unlike Il Giardino Armonico (which employs an additional theorbo) and Hesperion XXI (who add a third violin as well as a period guitar), London Baroque performs the piece with the leaner continuo of just a cello and harpsichord backing the two violins originally specified by the composer. How refreshing!

The sound is excellent with convincing instrumental presence and minimal extraneous noise. Violinist Richard Gwilt’s insightful notes feature brief commentaries by the period musicologist Charles Burney, and his reflections are often quite entertaining. As with the aforementioned “Stravaganze Napoletane”, as well as London Baroque’s “Trio Sonata in 18th-Century France” program, which I reviewed last year, this one also has much to recommend.

Review by John Greene, ClassicsToday.com

The trio sonata emerged in the mid-17th century and became obsolete around the middle of the 18th century. For about a century it was the main form of chamber music and many composers contributed to the genre. It was therefore a splendid idea of London Baroque to devote a series of recordings to this genre. After having released four discs with trio sonatas from the 17th century as they were written in Italy, Germany, France and England they have now turned their attention to the 18th century. So far two discs have appeared, with pieces from France and England respectively. This third disc is devoted to Italy, or rather to Italian composers. Some of them settled elsewhere, such as Giuseppe Sammartini who made a career in England and Locatelli who spent the largest part of his life in Amsterdam.

The programme begins with a Balletto by Albinoni, which has the form of a trio sonata and shows the influence of Corelli. A prelude is followed by three dance movements in fast tempi: two allegros and a presto. Thanks to the playing of London Baroque and the transparent recording the counterpoint in this sonata is perfectly displayed.

One of the nice things about this series of recordings is the inclusion of music by lesser-known composers. That is the case, for instance, with Francesco Antonio Bonporti, whose name one doesn't often see on concert programmes. He was first and foremost a clergyman who had studied at the Collegio Germanico in Rome. As a composer he wasn't a professional; the suggestion that he was a pupil of Corelli cannot be substantiated. Unfortunately for him he didn't make much of a career, neither as a clergyman nor as a composer. It seems that his compositional output didn't attract much attention in his own time, nor does it in ours. Only his Invenzioni op. 10 for solo violin and bc have been recorded several times. His music deserves better, and the inclusion of his Sonata in g minor is a nice tribute. Those who want to hear more should look at the site of the Italian label Dynamic (http://www.dynamic.it) which has produced a complete recording of his works in a Bonporti Edition.

From the little-known we move to the famous: Vivaldi's variations on the Folia rank among the most popular chamber music works of the baroque era. It is a brillliant piece in which virtuosity is mixed with counterpoint. The piece also has a considerable amount of contrast, and the climaxes within the single variations and the piece as a whole are perfectly realised by London Baroque.

Giovanni Bononcini was one of Europe's most celebrated composers around 1700. He travelled quite a lot and was especially prominent as a writer of oratorios and operas at the imperial court in Vienna. In his liner-notes Richard Gwilt repeatedly quotes Charles Burney, who had some uncomplimentary things to say about Bononcini, for instance that "his wealth did not consist in rich and deep mines of science". His view was shared by Francesco Geminiani who rated Giovanni's younger brother Antonio Maria higher, because he was "much beyond his brother in point of depth and knowledge". The Sonata II shows the first signs of the stylistic change in the genre of the trio sonata as in some movements the violins play in parallels, whereas they play in unison in the closing menuets.

Burney's judgements are partly due to different aesthetic ideals, as his comments on Porpora's instrumental works show. He was a celebrated composer of operas and cantatas and a famous singing teacher. No wonder that his instrumental works bear the traces of vocal music. Burney assessed that negatively, but there was a time that this was considered a virtue. The sonata which is played here contains some contrasts of an operatic nature, and that makes it a nice piece to listen to. In the last movement the violins largely play in parallel, with some episodes in which they are more independent.

Giuseppe Sammartini was educated as an oboist and settled in England in 1729 where he earned much praise for his playing. The Sonata V is in three movements; the last has a da capo structure, in which a lively allegro is embraced by an elegant sarabande with the marking allegro ma non tanto e grazioso.

Another emigrant from Italy was Pietro Antonio Locatelli, who spent some part of his life as a travelling virtuoso, whose playing wasn't unanimously appreciated. As he composed mainly for his own use sonatas for solo violin dominate in his oeuvre. The Sonata in D is one of the four trio sonatas he included in his op. 8. It is in five movements, with a particular strong contrast between the vivace, ending in a somewhat unexpected way, and the ensuing cantabile. From Gwilt's liner-notes one could get the idea that these four are Locatelli's only contributions to the genre of the trio sonata, but that is not the case. In 1736 a set of six trio sonatas was printed as op. 5; complete recordings are available with Musica ad Rhenum (Vanguard Classics, 1995) and with Modo Antiquo (Tactus, 1996).

In a way we are going backwards in time with the Sonata in G by Domenico Gallo. It is from a set of twelve which was published under the name of Pergolesi in 1780. Burney doubted the latter's authorship, and rightly so, as modern scholarship has discovered that some of them are from Gallo’s pen. It is quite likely that the whole set was written by him. The sonata played here is largely dominated by counterpoint. The most modern element is that it is in three movements: moderato, andantino and presto.

The last piece is by Tartini, another violin virtuoso who mostly composed for his own use. According to Gwilt his two sets of published trio sonatas are not very interesting. Instead we hear a sonata which has been preserved in manuscript. "[The] rather repetitive circular harmonic motion and the persistent avoidance of the perfect cadence (V-I) lend particularly the first movement of this trio an unusually ambiguous feeling". Tartini was strongly influenced by literature, in particular poetry. He usually read from the writings of Metastasio, Petrarch or Tasso before starting to compose. Quotations from these writings are often included in his manuscripts. It is quite possible that the character of this sonata can also be explained by reference to this aspect. The second movement includes frequent chromaticism.

With this sonata an interesting and musically entertaining journey through the history of the Italian trio sonata of the 18th century comes to an end. London Baroque is an outstanding guide, who explores the idiosyncracies of each of these pieces. The energetic playing and the eloquent dialogue between Ingrid Seifert and Richard Gwilt is a joy to hear. Charles Medlam and Steven Devine deliver engaging support. Those who are acquainted with the previous volumes in this series will not hesitate to add this disc to their collection. Others are advised to give it a try. I can't imagine that they will not want to hear more from this series. I eagerly await the next - and probably last - disc in this important and pleasurable project.

Review by Johan van Veen, MusicWeb-International.com

London Baroque - The Trio Sonata in 18th-Century Italy (2012)

London Baroque:

- Ingrid Seifert, violin
- Richard Gwilt, violin
- Charles Medlam, cello
- Steven Devine, harpsichord


Tomaso Giovanni ALBINONI (1671-1750)
Balletto in G major, Op.3 No.3
01. I. Preludio (01:09)
02. II. Allemanda (01:42)
03. III. Corrente (01:53)
04. IV. Gavotta (00:44)

Francesco Antonio BONPORTI (1672-1749)
Sonata in G minor, Op.6 No.7
05. I. Adagio (01:51)
06. II. Allemanda (01:28)
07. III. Giga (01:39)

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
08. Folia, Op.1 No.12 (09:24)

Giovanni BONONCINI (1670-1747)
Sonata II from 'XII Sonatas for the Chamber'
09. I. Largo - Andante (02:32)
10. II. Lento (01:35)
11. III. Allegro (01:37)
12. IV. Menuet I-II (02:27)

Nicola Antonio PORPORA (1686-1768)
Sonata, Op.2 No.II
13. I. Adagio sostenuto (02:12)
14. II. Allegro (02:48)
15. III. Adagio (02:19)
16. IV. Allegro (03:42)

Giuseppe SAMMARTINI (1695-1750)
Sonata V from XII Sonate a due Violini, e Violoncello, e Cembalo, se piace, Opera Terza
17. I. Andante sostenuto (01:54)
18. II. Allegro (02:58)
19. III. Sarabanda (04:39)

Pietro Antonio LOCATELLI (1695-1764)
Sonata in D major, Op.8 No.8
20. I. Largo andante (02:54)
21. II. Vivace (04:07)
22. III. Cantabile (02:56)
23. IV. [Alla Breve] - Adagio (01:48)
24. V. Allegro molto (01:33)

Domenico GALLO (b. c.1730-?)
Sonata No. 1 in G major
25. I. Moderato (02:37)
26. II. Andantino (01:48)
27. III. Presto (01:27)

Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Suonata a 3 in d minor
28. I. Allegro (02:58)
29. II. Largo andante (03:54)
30. III. Presto (02:24)

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log date: 2015-11-01 13:26:49

Analyzed: London Baroque / The Trio Sonata in 18th-Century Italy

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
DR11 -2.97 dB -19.66 dB 1:09 01-Albinoni: Balletto in G major, Op.3 No.3 - I. Preludio
DR13 -1.57 dB -18.07 dB 1:42 02-Albinoni: Balletto in G major, Op.3 No.3 - II. Allemanda
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DR12 -3.70 dB -19.23 dB 1:28 06-Bonporti: Sonata in G minor, Op.6 No.7 - II. Allemanda
DR12 -2.33 dB -19.39 dB 1:40 07-Bonporti: Sonata in G minor, Op.6 No.7 - III. Giga
DR14 -0.85 dB -20.80 dB 9:25 08-Vivaldi: Folia, Op.1 No.12
DR12 -4.81 dB -19.98 dB 2:33 09-Bononcini: Sonata II from 'XII Sonatas for the Chamber' - I. Largo - Andante
DR12 -6.13 dB -21.47 dB 1:36 10-Bononcini: Sonata II from 'XII Sonatas for the Chamber' - II. Lento
DR12 -4.74 dB -19.61 dB 1:38 11-Bononcini: Sonata II from 'XII Sonatas for the Chamber' - III. Allegro
DR13 -5.69 dB -22.13 dB 2:27 12-Bononcini: Sonata II from 'XII Sonatas for the Chamber' - IV. Menuet I-II
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DR14 -0.22 dB -18.23 dB 2:49 14-Porpora: Sonata, Op.2 No.III - II. Allegro
DR12 -8.50 dB -23.09 dB 2:20 15-Porpora: Sonata, Op.2 No.III - III. Adagio
DR12 -6.87 dB -21.93 dB 3:42 16-Porpora: Sonata, Op.2 No.III - IV. Allegro
DR10 -3.24 dB -19.84 dB 1:54 17-Sammartini: Sonata V from 'XII Sonate…' - I. Andante sostenuto
DR13 -0.85 dB -19.33 dB 2:59 18-Sammartini: Sonata V from 'XII Sonate…' - II. Allegro
DR13 -5.05 dB -20.80 dB 4:40 19-Sammartini: Sonata V from 'XII Sonate…' - III. Sarabanda
DR12 -3.80 dB -19.44 dB 2:54 20-Locatelli: Sonata in D major, Op.8 No.8 - I. Largo andante
DR13 -3.70 dB -20.06 dB 4:08 21-Locatelli: Sonata in D major, Op.8 No.8 - II. Vivace
DR12 -5.49 dB -21.43 dB 2:56 22-Locatelli: Sonata in D major, Op.8 No.8 - III. Cantabile
DR13 -2.09 dB -18.72 dB 1:48 23-Locatelli: Sonata in D major, Op.8 No.8 - IV. [Alla Breve] - Adagio
DR12 -3.41 dB -19.47 dB 1:33 24-Locatelli: Sonata in D major, Op.8 No.8 - V. Allegro molto
DR12 -4.96 dB -20.64 dB 2:37 25-Gallo: Sonata No.1 in G major - I. Moderato
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DR13 -3.60 dB -19.65 dB 3:54 29-Tartini: Suonata a tre in D minor - II. Largo andante
DR12 -1.78 dB -19.59 dB 2:25 30-Tartini: Suonata a tre in D minor - III. Presto

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Official DR value: DR12

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London Baroque - The Trio Sonata in 18th-Century Italy (2012)

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