It was in 1601 that the Chinese court heard for the first time an European instrument, a spinet brought by an Italian Jesuit. Afterward, European instruments were regularly presented to the emperor and the court. In 1679, the emperor even asked a Portuguese Jesuit to write a treatise on European music to be included in one on Chinese music. Teodorico Pedrini was an Italian Jesuit sent by the Pope to China, the emperor having requested to be sent European artists to be at his services. Pedrini arrived at the Chinese court in February 1711 where he remained until his death in 1746. The emperor appreciated him because he could play different instruments and even sing Chinese songs on these Western instruments. He served under three emperors: Kangxi, Yong Zheng, and Qian Long. He did a lot: repairing the court instruments, building an organ, completing the treatise started by the Portuguese Jesuit, teaching music, and much more. Pedrini appears to have written quite a lot of music. But what remains today is a collection of sonatas, excerpts of which are found on this CD. You can hear Correlli's influence. Many historians tried to find Chinese influence on Pedrini's music. What are found are more unorthodox musical structures compared to the European ones than real influences. From 1750 and 1793, another Jesuit, Father Amiot S.J., wrote some music using Chinese melodies. As interludes, some of these melodies are alternated with Pedrini's sonatas.
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AllMusic Review by Bruno Deschênes