L’Arte dell’Arco and Federico Guglielmo have made many well-received recordings for Brilliant Classics focusing on the music of the ‘Red Priest’, Antonio Vivaldi. With concertos, operas, motets and much more, they have covered most of their Venetian predecessor’s output. Most notably they have recorded all the concertos and chamber music within his published Opp. 1-12 set (BC95200), now released as an invaluable box set of 20CDs.
Their trademark qualities of rhythmic elan and light textures are now brought to six of the composer’s nine surviving cello sonatas. These were not assigned an opus number but were published together in 1740, just ayear before his death. That the sonatas are late works may also be inferred from the borrowing of earlier music, including arias from his operas.
All the sonatas are four-movement works, in which slow movements preface alternating quick ones, in the manner of church sonatas from the period. Indeed this synthesis of sacred and secular genres was a preoccupation of Vivaldi throughout his career. The slow movements not borrowed from operas often work in grave patterns of scales, while the quick finales are always dashing and dance-like. The choice of key for the six sonatas is also interesting: three of them (Nos. 1, 4 and 6) are in a somewhat darkly expressive B flat major, whereas two (Nos. 3 and 4) plunge the listener into the emotionally charged atmosphere of A minor and E minor. Only the Second Sonata, in F major, is more luminous and clear in hue.
The soloist on this new recording is Francesco Galligioni, who has played these works with Anner Bylsma, the great Dutch Baroque cellist. He is a regular member of the Venice Baroque Orchestra, which has become renowned for its concerts and recordings of Vivaldi’s music, and also cellist with the L’Aura Soave group which has made recordings as part of a Vivaldi Edition.
A recording of the complete Cello Sonatas by Vivaldi on period instruments! Antonio Vivaldi was one of the first composers to feature the cello, then a relatively “new” instrument (after the viola da gamba), as a mature solo instrument. This recording contains the 6 sonatas for cello and basso continuo.
Vivaldi displays an astonishing variety and inventiveness in these works, using the instrument’s possibilities to the utmost; these sonatas still offer a serious challenge, both technical and musical, for any professional cellist nowadays. Apart from that they are vintage Vivaldi, featuring an enormous range of emotional extremes, from deep heartfelt sadness to infectious joy.
Excellent performances on period instruments by one of the leading cellists in this field, Francesco Galligioni, solo cellist of the Venice Baroque Orchestra led by Andrea Marcon, he recorded for Archiv/DG and other prestigious labels. Federico Guglielmo, the Early Music veteran, inspires his L’Arte dell’Arco to brilliant and passionate playing. The continuo exists of violin, violone, lute, harpsichord and chamber organ.
Liner notes written by a musicologist, in both Italian and English.