Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

New! Improved!


Though as far as I know 17th century Venetians didn't have cereal or soap boxes with "NEW!" labels, they were still big on novelty. Aficionados of music looked for the "Stil Moderno" tag when it came to new music:

Score from IMSLP.
And the thing is, this music can sound pretty novel even today. There's something fresh and unexpected about the way Dario Castello crafts his melodies, his dramatic recitatives, and even those nods to the past, his strict polyphonic sections. You'll notice that Castello is billed in the title page of the Sonate Concertante as "Musico Della Serenissima Signoria di Venetia in S. Marco, & Capo di Compagnia de Instrumenti", which puts him in St. Mark's Cathedral during the time that Claudio Monteverdi was in charge of the music there.  This is indeed in the "Modern Style", perhaps even "Bordo d'attacco", which Google Translate tells me is Italian for "Leading Edge".

Some of the freshness and verve I hear in the music must come from the musicians of Musica Fiata, and their conductor Roland Wilson. Wilson and his musicians would need to make decisions about orchestration and interpretation, since the score is sometimes a bit generic:
Though Musica Fiata have recorded Venetian music in the past, I know them best playing music from Germany and Austria: Fux, Schutz, Schein and Rosenmuller. Their 2013 Bach Luther Cantatas disc for Deutsche Harmonia Mundi was outstanding. But this new disc of Castello's amazing music demonstrates that nothing is lost in the transalpine journey. The CD will be released on April 8, 2016; pre-order or stand in line at Amazon.com early on the 8th (ha!) to get yours.

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