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Agostino GUERRIERI (c1630 - c1662): Sonate di Violino

Parnassi musici

rec: Jan 16 - 17 & July 9, 2008, Baden-Baden, Hans-Rosbaud-Studio
CPO - 777 543-2 (© 2012) (59'58")
Liner-notes: E/D
Cover & track-list

Agostino GUERRIERI: Balletto prima, per camera; Balletto secondo, per camera; La Benedetta, Sonata a 2 Violini; La Brignoli, Sonata a 2 Violini; La Galeazza, Sonata a 2 violini; La Lucina, Sonata a 2. Alpa doppia over Teorba & Violino; La Marchetta, Sonata a 2 Violini; La Pietra, Sonata a 3. Due Violini & Basso di Viola; La Rosciana, Sonata a 2 Violini; La Rotini, a solo; La Sevaschina, a solo; La Sevescia, Sonata a 4; La Tità, Sonata a solo, Alpa doppia, overo Teorba; Sonata malinconica, a solo; Giovanni Antonio Maria TURATI (1608-1650): La Rovetta, Sonata a 4; La Viviani, Sonata a 3. Due Violini & Theorba

Sources: Agostino Guerrieri, Sonate di Violino a per Chiesa & anco Aggionta per Camera, 1673

In the early 17th century not only the style of composing changed, but also a whole new genre came into existence: the instrumental sonata. Two instruments played a key role: the cornett and the violin. During the 17th century the cornett was gradually moved to the sidelines, whereas the violin became dominant. A large repertoire for one or more violins was composed, and much of it was quite virtuosic. Around the middle of the century the form of the sonata started to change. Until then many sonatas were divided into short sections of a mostly contrasting character. In the last decades of the century composers began to divide sonatas into various movements with specific indications in regard to tempo and character. The sonatas by Guerrieri, from which a selection is played here, document a stage in this development. In the liner-notes Sven Schwannberger writes: "[A] bass line that is (for its time) fairly richly figured, piano and forte markings appearing at times with extreme frequency, movement (or section) titles indicating form and tempo, and the very detailed instrumentation for the basso continuo mark this collection as a modern work of its day". Unfortunately the indications for the various movements or sections are omitted in the track-list.

We know next to nothing about Guerrieri, not even the exact years of his birth and death. We do know that he was a pupil of Giovanni Antonio Maria Turati (1608-1650) from Milan. A collection of sacred music by Turati was published after his death by Guerrieri. The latter's sonatas op. 1 include two sonatas by his teacher, which are also recorded on the present disc. This collection is the only extant music from Guerrieri's pen. The Sonate di Violino a per Chiesa & anco Aggionta per Camera were printed in 1673 in Venice. It bears witness to the fact that titles can mislead. The title of Guerrieri's set seems to suggest that all the sonatas are for violins, but that is not the case. La Tità is a solo sonata for harp or theorbo with basso continuo; here it is played on the harp. The theorbo is used in La Lucina, a sonata for harp or theorbo, violin and bc. La Viviani by Turata also includes a solo part for the theorbo.

In the title we also find the addition anco aggionta per camera. This refers to the balletti which Guerrieri included in this collection. The two balletti in this recording are for two treble instruments and basso continuo. They are played with violin and recorder. The latter instrument is also used in various other pieces: La Sevaschina and the Sonata malinconica. Schwannberger writes about documentary evidence of the use of recorders in Italian music of that time, but doesn't explain why exactly it is used in music which seems first and foremost to be written for violin. Not that there is any objection to that per se: it depends on the character of the music. Sonatas which don't include specific violinistic passages, like double-stopping, can perfectly be played on the recorder.

The titles of the sonatas probably refer to people from Guerrieri's environment or of colleagues of his. This was quite common practice at the time. We find such titles also in the oeuvre of composers like Legrenzi and Pandolfi Mealli. The names are often hard to identify. Schwannberger suggests that La Rovetta, one of the sonatas by Tirata, could refer to the composer Giovanni Rovetta. La Viviani could be a reference to Giovanni Buonaventura Viviani, a violinist and composer of Guerrieri's time.

Some sonatas are quite virtuosic. That goes for La Rotini, a solo sonata played here on the violin, and for La Lucina. The performers have no problems whatsoever with the technical requirements. Parnassi musici have made a series of recordings for CPO which show their interest in rather unconventional repertoire, such as Legrenzi, Vierdanck and Neruda. All of them are of high quality, technically and musically, and that isn't any different here. These are lively, energetic and captivating performances. The violinists take the main role, but I would especially mention the contributions of Masako Art on the arpa doppia and Sven Schwannberger on recorder and theorbo. The way this disc has been put together guarantees a good amount of variety in regard to scoring and character.

Anyone who likes to broaden his musical horizon should consider this disc.

Johan van Veen (© 2012)

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