Johann Stamitz’s six Violin Sonatas op. 6 were first published following his death - which is hardly surprising, for who besides the composer himself would then have been able to meet their breakneck violinistic challenges? Stamitz was famous for his absolutely incredible finger dexterity, a reputation that this father of the German violin school continues to enjoy even today. Stephan Schardt not only has taken up this challenge but also delights and surprises the listener with an album brimming with perfect beauty and offering more than mere virtuosic stunts.
Corelli's Op. 5 Violin Sonatas have always been admired by chamber music fans; there are a couple of good recordings of them already available. But this new one by Baroque specialist and virtuoso Andrew Manze and harpsichordist Richard Egarr presents the sonatas in such a bright, exciting, and improvisatory light that they seem brand new. During the composer's lifetime, these sonatas were widely played and tremendously influential; there's a good chance that it was assumed that virtuosi took what was written on the page as a starting point for embellishing and sheer showing off.
Mitzi Meyerson likes to come up with surprising musical finds or rediscoveries and her latest, the Opera Prima of Giovanni Battista Somis, is as fascinating as her recordings devoted to Richard Jones and Gottlieb Muffat. Indeed, the harpsichordist chanced upon the score for this set of Baroque violin sonatas – first published in 1717 – when investigating the music of Richard Jones in the British Library, finding thereby another trove of forgotten Baroque gems. Somis worked for the Dukes of Savoy, initially in Turin, in the early 18th century, but studied with Corelli in Rome, later befriended Vivaldi, and himself taught many subsequent prominent violinists, including Jean-Marie Leclair.
The Italian ensemble I Virtuosi di Roma's long tradition of performing classics of the Italian Baroque pioneered in many ways the contemporary revival of early music. When its founder, Renato Fazzano, passed away the group disbanded, but a regrouping of sorts took place in the early 80s with eight members of the original group. The new ensemble, which calls itself I Solisti Italiani, has continued the Fazzano legacy, emphasizing line and grace in presenting particularly the works of Vivaldi.
I Solisti Veneti is one of the first rank of small Italian chamber orchestras with modern instruments. Founded in Padua in 1959 by Claudio Scimone, it has made a reputation especially with Italian Baroque music, recording many works by Antonio Vivaldi, Tomaso Albinoni, Francesco Geminiani, Benedetto Marcello and Giuseppe Tartini. Giuliano Carmignola and Piero Toso were two of the soloists in the ensemble. The group has made over 300 recordings, many on the Erato record label. A number of these were first-ever recordings of works of Vivaldi, Albinoni and Rossini.