Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"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.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The International Style of the Spanish Corelli

When I spent two years in the Twin Cities back in the olden days (Go Vikings!), I never felt more Canadian. Francisco José de Castro was born in Seville in 1670, but he spent his artistic life in Italy. He called himself "Spagnuolo", and one can very much hear a Spanish flavour in this music.

Still, this Opus 1 collection shows that De Castro had adapted completely to what had become the International Style of instrumental music at the end of the 17th century. Corelli is the obvious influence, but there are other strands to hear besides the Spanish and Italian. French dances make an appearance as well. This is wonderful music: rich with operatic flair (a number of these movements may have been used, with doubled string parts, as overtures), dance rhythms, emotional interludes, and special musical effects to wow the cognoscenti.

And it's a wonderful performance, by La Real Cámara, under the leadership of Emilio Moreno. Moreno apparently recorded this music for Radio Nacional de España back in the 1980s, so he knows this music well. This is playing of the highest standard, which expresses an obvious commitment and love, and Moreno's album is the best possible advocate for this composer.

Recorded in the Auditorio y Palacio de Congresos Príncipe Felipe, in Orviedo, Asturias, by Spanish musicians, I was a bit surprised when I compared the great 9th sonata with the only other Castro recording I could find, by Chatham Baroque:

This actually has a stronger Spanish flavour than the new version, though maybe that's because of the context, a (highly recommended) album called Españoleta.

I'm so impressed with De Castro's music, and wish there were more to listen to, but it looks like this might be the Complete Works at this point. The Concerti Accademici, op. 4, as appealing as they are, are probably mis-attributed. His Opus 2 collection is, according to the liner notes by Marco Bizzarini, "currently missing", so I'm hoping they might turn up some day.  I certainly hope when they do the scores go first to Emilio Moreno and La Real Cámara.

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