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"Manoscritto di Napoli 1725"

Per Flauto
Dir: Bart Coen

rec: Jan 19 - 21, 2009, Antwerpen, AMUZ
Sony - 88697564082 (© 2010) (67'55")

Francesco MANCINI (1672-1737): Sonata VI in d minor; Sonata XIX in e minor; Sonata XX in c minor; Domenico SARRI (1679-1744): Sonata XI in a minora; Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725): Sonata IX in a minor; Sonata XXII in A; Sonata XXIII in C; Sonata XXIV in g minor
N.B. The title 'sonata' in this tracklist follows the manuscript; the tracklist in the booklet calls them 'concerti', following the title of the manuscript.

(Source: Concerti di Flauto, Violini, Violetta e Basso, di Diversi Autori, [1725])

Bart Coen, recorder; Ryo Terakado, An Van Laethem, violin; Mika Akiba, violaa; Ronan Kernoa, cello; Herman Stinders, harpsichord, organ

The so-called 'Naples Manuscript' which is mentioned in the title of this disc is kept in the library of the Conservatorio di Musica San Pietro a Majella in Naples, and bears the title Concerti di Flauto, Violini, Violetta e Basso, di Diversi Autori. The 24 compositions in the manuscript are chamber concertos for recorder, two violins and bc, with three of them containing a part for a viola.

Although the title refers to Concerti the pieces are called Sonata, and they are numbered according to their place in the manuscript. The Sonata IX by Alessandro Scarlatti is not the composer's ninth piece for this scoring, but the ninth work in the manuscript. The repertoire recorded here is not unknown. Alessandro Scarlatti's sonatas have been recorded completely, and some sonatas by Mancini and Sarri have also been recorded. In addition the manuscript contains pieces by Roberto Valentini (or Robert Valentine) and Francesco Barbella, who are also represented on disc. The least-known composer is Giovanni Battista Mele.

The first piece on this disc is the Sonata IX in a minor by Alessandro Scarlatti which I already mentioned. It is by far the best-known work in the collection, and was recorded as early as the 1970s by Frans Brüggen and the Leonhardt-Consort. It is on of the two sonatas on this disc which is in five movements. The third is a fugue, and this kind of movement is part of every sonata, usually the second movement. This is an indication that these sonatas are modelled after the sonata da chiesa which was standardized by Arcangelo Corelli.

Bart Coen, in his programme notes, underlines the close relationship between these sonatas and vocal music. This is reflected by the lyrical and cantabile character of in particular a number of fast movements, whereas some slow movements are quite dramatic. Examples of the latter are the larghetto from Mancini's Sonata XIX in e minor and the lento from his Sonata XX in c minor as well as the opening adagio of Scarlatti's Sonata XXIII in C with its strong dissonants.

This same sonata is also notable for its surprising ending. There are more remarkable movements, like the fugue of Mancini's Sonata XX in c minor, the silence of the basso continuo in the largo of Scarlatti's Sonata XXIV in g minor and the elegant largo from Sarri's Sonata XI in a minor, in which the recorder is accompanied by the strings playing staccato.

This repertoire may not be unknown, it is wonderful music which deserves to be performed and recorded and is well worth listening to, not just for recorder aficionados. Bart Coen delivers really great performances, and the members of his ensemble are truly congenial partners. Right from the start they show their qualities: the beautiful opening allegro from Scarlatti's Sonata IX in a minor is performed with nice ornamentation in the recorder part and an excellent exposition of the rhythmic pulse. The swaying rhythm of the moderato from Mancini's Sonata XIX in e minor and the sparkling allegro which closes the sonata are brilliantly realised. The basso continuo section drives the players on, and there is no continuous shift from organ to harpsichord and vice versa within sonatas. That deserves loud applause.

The quality of music and performances give every reason to recommend this disc. The booklet contains good liner notes by Bart Coen.

Johan van Veen (© 2010)

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