Polished, historically informed accounts of little-known trio sonatas from the high noon of the Italian Baroque.
‘The playing is of a high order,’ observed Early Music World when reviewing Labirinti Armonici’s debut on Brilliant Classics (BC95718), with the Op.2 Sonatas of Francesco Antonio Bonporti: ‘the overall effect is of a highly professional group at home with the repertoire. So little of Bonporti’s works have been recorded to the highest standards; let us hope this is a start of a revival!’
Such hopes are answered here by a second disc, which returns to the set of sonatas da Chiesa which first made Bonporti’s name when they were published in 1696. Corelli, no less, is said to have instructed him in violin playing, though Bonporti regarded himself as primarily a priest rather than a composer. Indeed he used his compositions primarily as a means of preferment towards more prestigious clerical posts: writing to the secretary of the Elector of Mainz, Bonporti offered to forgo a year's salary if appointed chaplain to the emperor at Vienna.
His proposal and ambition went unrewarded on this occasion and many others, and only a century ago was his music rediscovered as part of a volume of sonatas formerly attributed to J.S. Bach. In fact the Capellmeister of Leipzig probably knew Bonporti’s music, and perhaps adopted the genre of keyboard ‘Inventions’ from him. Bonporti’s own compositional model was clearly that of Corelli, with its technically sophisticated writing for the violin, full of virtuoso touches and flourishes as well as imaginative harmony and lively part-writing. Nevertheless, his output remains under-explored even by modern ensembles, which makes this new recording an attractive acquisition for all devotees of the Italian Baroque.
Francesco Bonporti (1672-1749) lived for the largest part of his life in Trento, his native town. He studied in Rome, and was influenced by Arcangelo Corelli, whose style of imitative counterpoint he invests with dramatic elements. His fame spread over Europe and the great Johann Sebastian Bach transcribed for harpsichord some of his violin sonatas.
The complete Trio Sonatas for 2 Violins & B.C. Op. 1 consist of the 4 movements of the Sonata di Chiesa (Church Sonatas). The first violin is mainly predominant, the other two instruments usually providing the accompaniment. The faster movements require virtuoso skills from the performers while the slow movements flow in sensitive and slightly melancholy melodic lines.
The Italian group Labirinti Armonici specializes in the performance of undiscovered Baroque music, it consists of two violins, cello and harpsichord/organ. They successfully recorded the Bonporti Sonatas Op. 2 for Brilliant Classics.