Press Release - August, 2007
TRIO SETTECENTO’S NEW DISC TAKES LISTENERS
Period-Instrument Ensemble’s ‘An Italian Sojourn’ CD
Cedille Records has released An Italian Sojourn, the first in a planned series of baroque-music CDs with Chicago-based period-instrument ensemble Trio Settecento.
Future discs by the trio of violinist Rachel Barton Pine, ‘cellist John Mark Rozendaal, and harpsichordist David Schrader will focus on music from Germany, France, and the British Isles, the label announced.
An Italian Sojourn traces the remarkable musical innovations of Baroque-era composers in Venice, Rome, and beyond. The CD includes works by Dario Castello, Alessandro Stradella, Biagio Marini, Pietro Antonio Locatelli, Arcangelo Corelli, Giuseppe Tartini, George Frideric Handel, and Francesco Veracini (Cedille Records CDR 90000 099).
“We chose the pieces on this album for their profound beauty and sometimes startling originality, even eccentricity,” Pine writes in a preface to the CD booklet.
Developments in Baroque-era Italy converged to give rise to an entirely new voice for instrumentalists as well as singers. In his book Baroque Music, Claude V. Palisca wrote, “More than at any other time in the history of music, the capabilities of instruments and the aspirations of their players are having a deep effect on musical style. At the same time, adaptations of vocal procedures make up a strong component of the instrumental idiom.”
The works on An Italian Sojourn exude what Trio Settecento ‘cellist Rozendaal, in his notes for the CD booklet, calls “the rhetoric of the newly vocalized violin.”
The CD opens with the Sonata ottava in D minor by Castello, whose career flourished in Venice during the first half of the 17th century. Castello’s sonatas are illustrative of the Venetian stile moderno. George J. Buelow, writing in A History of Baroque Music, points to Castello’s “dramatically rhetorical musical contrasts” and “startling alternations of affect” achieved through changes in textures, tempos, and dynamics.
Marini (1594–1663), whose Sonata a due in D minor is heard here, was a Venetian who explored unusual instrumental effects and compositional techniques. He was a violinist himself, and according to Palisco’s Baroque Music, he “combines a conscious absorption of vocal methods and ideals in his violin music with a full realization of the instrument’s potential.”
In his short life, the prodigious Stradella (1644–1682) wrote hundreds of works in all genres. Rozendaal describes the Sinfonia in D minor as “a rich amalgam of quasi-improvisatory passages, carefully worked counterpoint, and dance elements.”
The genius and talents of Corelli (1653–1713) were widely recognized in his own lifetime. His Opus 5 was a touchstone for the finest aspiring violinists. The Sonata in C Major, No. 5, from that volume is heard on the CD, but that’s not the disc’s only connection to the composer. Violinist Pine studied with Almita Vamos, whose violinistic lineage can be traced back in an unbroken thread to Corelli, as detailed in the CD notes.
Corelli and Handel (1685–1756) collaborated on important projects. Corelli’s approach was “clearly the template and inspiration for Handel’s sonatas,” Rozendaal writes. Handel composed his relatively little-known Sonata in G minor, HWV 364a in the years following his half-decade sojourn in Italy. The sonata is notable for its lively Italianate dialogues between the violin and the bass line in the second movement.
Veracini (1690¬–1750), Tartini (1692¬–1770), and Locatelli (1695–1764) were among those who greatly expanded and embellished Corelli’s violinistic language.
Like other works in Locatelli’s Opus 6, his Sonata da camera, No. 2, in F major, eschews the traditional slow-fast-slow-fast format in favor of a more modern arrangement. Tartini’s Sonata Pastorale in A Major is a splendid example of a type of Baroque string music in which drone effects are used to evoke the traditional bagpipe music of shepherds. Veracini’s Sonata in D-minor offers the twin thrills of a passacaglia and a chaconne, genres inherited from the operatic stage. True to their theatrical roots, the passacaglia evokes the lament of a heroine pining for her lost love, while the chaconne could be celebrating the happy reunion of lost lovers.
Violinist Pine, ‘cellist Rozendaal, and keyboard artist Schrader first came together as ensemble in 1996 to record Handel’s complete sonatas for Cedille Records. The Handel CD, which was released in 1997, became Cedille’s top-selling CD for most of the following decade. The artists enjoyed their collaboration and decided to continue as a period-instrument ensemble, taking the name Trio Settecento (1700s Trio). The disc led to invitations to perform throughout the U.S., including an acclaimed New York debut at the Frick Collection in 2006 and their debut at the Boston Early Music Festival in 2007. More about Trio Settecento is available at www.myspace.com/triosettecento.
Pine has been described in Fanfare magazine as “one of the rare mainstream performers with a total grasp of Baroque style and embellishment.” A reviewer for ClassicsToday.com wrote, “Pine delivers one of the most appealing baroque tones I’ve ever heard.” For baroque repertoire, she performs on a 1770 Nicola Gagliano in original condition. Among her many awards and credits is a gold medal from the 1992 J.S. Bach International Violin Competition in Leipzig, Germany, where she became the first American and youngest performer to win this honor. This is her ninth recording for Cedille. Her Web site is www.rachelbartonpine.com.
Rozendaal specializes in peforming and teaching stringed instrument music from the Baroque and Renaissance eras. He was founding artistic director of the Chicago Baroque Ensemble and has peformed solo and continuo roles with many period instrument ensembles, including the Newberry Consort, Orpheus Band, Boston Early Music Festival Violin Band, the New York Consort of Viols, and others. This is his sixth recording for Cedille. His Web site is www.jmrozendaal.com.
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Dario Castello: Sonata ottava in D minor (4:38)