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.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Serious music of a serious man

Francesco Antonio Bonporti: Sonatas for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo, op. 2

The name of Francesco Antonio Bonporti was unknown to me until 2000, when Dynamic began releasing their Bonporti Edition, with the Accademia I Filarmonici. That series ended up with five releases, representing a good chunk of Bonporti's music. This is very fine music indeed, full of invention, and well-played by the Italian band. Speaking of invention, it was a case of mistaken identity that first brought Bonporti to the attention of the wider musical world. Four Inventions in J.S. Bach's hand-writing, assumed to be Bach's compositions, were discovered to be Bonporti originals. A strong affirmation of Bonporti's quality! Fifteen years later we have this excellent disc from Labirinti Armonici, and if anything it raises the bar in terms of performance, and gives even more credence to the idea that Bonporti should be considered a composer of more than average stature.

Bonporti is a son of Trento, known in English as Trent (of Council of Trent fame), a prosperous small city in Northern Italy. Its history as a part of the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and re-unified Italy points to a role as a link between northern and southern cultures, but except for the mixup with Bach and his Inventioni Bonporti's real musical links were with Rome (especially Corelli), Venice (Vivaldi), Padua (Tartini) where he died in 1749, the year before Bach. This isn't music of a dynamic, cosmopolitan composer, though, but rather more of a quiet, studious provincial with impeccable skills but not a great deal of ambition. He was an amateur in the best sense of the term, with a refined sensibility and a distinctive voice. The excellent musicians of Labirinti Armonici present this serious music of a serious man in the best possible way, with able support from Brilliant Classics, who continue to surprise with release after release of Early Music of the very highest quality.

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