A woman composer in 18th century Italy? Maddalena Laura Lombardini Sirmen (1745–1818) wrote concertos, and they are an exciting discovery not just because they make us see more fully the European world of Haydn and Mozart, but because they also afford a glimpse into the life of Italy’s orphanages for girls.
The six violin concertos Opus3 were composed at the end of the 1760s or beginning of the 1770s, and display the influence of Tartini. They were published by Napier in London and by Hummel in Amsterdam in 1772-3. As usual in concertos after Vivaldi, a lyrical slow movement is framed by two fast ones. The works are elegant and graceful, bearing features of the early classical style.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra and its enterprising leader, violinist Richard Tognetti, wade with these popular Mozart works into a field with plenty of competition, and the results, as usual with this popular group, range from good to superb. The performances are generally oriented toward historical practice; the string players use gut strings, tuned slightly below modern concert pitch, and the oboes and horns are historically appropriate instruments. In general matters of attack and phrasing, the players do not diverge too far from modern practice, and Tognetti, in his own notes (in English, German, and French), points out that even if treatises of the period laid down certain procedures in regard to these matters, the notoriously capricious Mozart might well have done something completely different.
…I Solisti Italiani continues, both spiritually and sonically, where the original Virtuosi di Roma left off, with creamy, expert, middle-of-the-road performances of Baroque and Classical period music, and occasional 20th-century pieces as well. The ensemble is small - only 12 players, without conductor - but the sound is full and caloric, the playing dapper and disciplined.
Pieter Hellendaal is one of those curiously elusive figures from the past, whose life, spent industriously in a musical backwater, left little impression on history, but whose surviving music, although modest in quantity, is of surprising quality. This is the first complete recording of his osagnificant Six Grand Concertos op. 3 (t75g), undoubtedly one of the finest sets of concerti grossi published in England during the eighteenth century, though surely one of the most unjustly neglected today. The son of a Rotterdam candle-maker, Ftellendaal's prodigious talents as a violinist were recognised at an early age when the Secretary of Amsterdam, Mattheus Lestevenon, sent bins (aged barely sixteen) to study in Italy with the virtuoso violinist and composer Guiseppe Tartium…
Among the great instrumental composers who were active in Italy in the 18th century, Giuseppe Tartini (Pirano d’Istria, 1692 - Padova, 1770) is the one who most explicitly focussed his production on his own chosen instrument, the violin, neglecting genres that in his day were very popular. 135 violin concertos and about 200 sonatas for violin and basso continuo form, in fact, the main bulk of his output. The Arte dell’Arco ensemble, who have met with great success with this series, measure themselves once again with Tartini’s beautiful and difficult concertos, all works recorded here for the first time.
This six-CD box set brings together four major concerto sets composed including the most famous Il Cimento dell'Armonia e l'Invenzione awarded pride of place.
The eminently reliable Academy of Ancient Music play their period instruments with consummate zest under their charismatic conductor Christopher Hogwood and these sets date back to the early digital cum late analogue days when the fabled 'L'Oiseau-Lyre' label still produced those lavishly packaged boxes with their distinctive white covers and the wonderful paintings.
This album contains the second group of six concertos published in 1729 in Amsterdam by Le Cane, the series making, with Opus 11, published in the same year, the now usual set of twelve...