The playing is of a high order,’ observed Early Music World when reviewing Labirinti Armonici’s debut on Brilliant Classics (95718), with the Op.2 Sonatas of Francesco Antonio Bonporti: ‘the overall effect is of a highly professional group at home with the repertoire. So few of Bonporti’s works have been recorded to the highest standards; let us hope this is a start of a revival!’
The revival hastens on with a third volume of Bonporti from the same performers, all practised Italian musicians specialising in music of the 17th and 18th centuries and who began coming together under the Labirinti Armonici umbrella in 2006. Since then they have hosted many masterclasses in Baroque performance practice, based in the Trento region of northern Italy, as well as giving concerts across the region.
Under the directorship of founder Andrea Ferroni, Labirinti Armonici has adopted the cause of Bonporti as a local hero. He was born in the city of Trento in 1672 and died in Padova in 1749, thus almost exactly overlapping with the more famous Cantor of Leipzig; in fact Bach 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.
The Trio Sonatas Op.4 were published in Venice in 1703. They are magnificently accomplished exemplars of the genre, graced throughout with subtle touches of individuality such as the dynamic dialogues between violin parts and deftly rounded dissonances. Labirinti Armonici’s recordings demonstrate how far performance and understanding of this music has come since the pioneering albums of Bonporti were made more than 60 years ago (led by Carlo Maria Giulini, no less).
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.
Bonporti’s compositional model was clearly that of Corelli, with its technically sophisticated writing for the violin, full of virtuoso touches as well as imaginative harmony and lively part-writing. The complete Trio Sonatas for 2 Violins & B.C. Op. 4 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 pleasingly melancholic melodies.
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. 1 and 2 for Brilliant Classics.