Giovanni Battista Vitali (1632-92) along with Domenico Gabrieli was one of several important musicians to accept posts at the vibrant court of the duchy of Modena. The young duke, Francesco II, was a cultivated prince, lover of the arts, and by all accounts a good violinist. Gabrieli was a pioneer of the cello, and Vitali was a virtuoso on the ‘violone’ – a large bass violin, and proficient on the new cello. Corelli politely declined an appointment from the duke, and dedicated his Op.3 to Francesco. Vitali started a musical dynasty at the court that lasted for 4 generations.
The Op.11 sonatas are composed for 6 instruments, although the court band had grown to 13 players during Vitali’s time there. For this recording, the parts have been doubled, to provide additional continuo. These works were a considerable success for the composer and were consistently in print long after Vitali’s death.
The music is a sophisticated blend of Italian and French styles, with the dance never far from the composer’s mind. They are fascinating works from a skilful composer who was a contemporary of Purcell, Marais, Pachelbel and Corelli.
- Recorded in 2008, on period instruments, Italian Renaissance and baroque violins.