Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:

BBC Music Magazine (12/2019)
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Appréciation d'ensemble / Overall evaluation :

Reviewer: Anthony Burton

‘Four violins in Venice’ is a catchy but rather misleading title. This anthology of 17th-century string chamber music, played by the Belgian-based group Clematis, contains pieces not only from Venice but from all over northern Italy. And sonatas and other works featuring four violins were actually something of a rarity in the period. So there are also items for smaller numbers of violins, including some delightful essays in the use of echo effects, and a couple of fascinating pieces by Biagio Marini in which a single violin simulates a larger grouping by playing respectively polyphony on two strings and chords ‘in the manner of a lyre’.

The idiom of the music is attractive, and the performances are fluent, though the recording doesn’t always allow the violins to soar free of their continuo accompaniment into the church acoustic. But the disc works best as musical wallpaper, which the performers surely didn’t intend. The pieces are so short and the composers so numerous that the listener doesn’t get much sense of individual personalities or the development of the early Baroque sonata. Perhaps Clematis might offer some meatier ‘composer portraits’?


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