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.
"Ensemble 415 is a chamber ensemble devoted largely to the performance of Baroque music on period instruments. The numerical reference in the group's name derives from the pitch used for tuning instruments in the Baroque era. In performing chamber music, Ensemble 415 consists of just a few players, but for larger compositions, the number expands to a minimum of 13 and can reach up to as high as 40 performers. The ensemble's repertory has been broad over the years, taking in many Baroque standards by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel, as well as lesser known fare by Muffat and others…"
…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.
These dozen sonatas fully constitute one-sixth of Corelli's published output and strongly influenced the form of the violin sonata in the early decades of the eighteenth century. The collection is in many ways a condensation of Corelli's four earlier volumes of trio sonatas...
About Dario Castello and Giovanni Battista Fontana, two Italian composers from the turn of the 17th century, musical scholarship hasn’t much to tell us. We know as little about Castello, who was leading an ensemble at St. Mark’s around 1629, as we do about the exact birth and death dates of Fontana, who came from Brescia and probably perished during the 1630 outbreak of plague in Padua. Yet there are a number of surviving works by both men that reveal them to have been remarkable composers for the violin. Two books by Castello of sonate concertate in one to four parts, in stil moderno with continuo, were printed during the composer’s lifetime. In his new recording violinist John Holloway has selected a number of sonatas from this collection to couple with similar works by Fontana, some originally for violin as well as some conceived for other string or wind instruments.
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.