Trio Settecento, a Baroque chamber ensemble featuring violinist Rachel Barton Pine along with continuo provided by cellist John Mark Rosendaal and harpsichordist David Schrader, was founded to record Barton Pine's first Çedille disc, a collection of Handel's rarely recorded violin sonatas. Although the album was a success, and so was Barton Pine, Trio Settecento went into the workshop as a group and did not emerge again on record until Çedille's An Italian Sojourn, made more than a decade after the Handel effort. It was well worth the wait, as Barton Pine's grasp of Baroque violin has deepened since Handel, and in 2002 she began playing Baroque chamber music on a 1770 Gagliano, which she states "has had a remarkable effect on my capability to be faithful to the early composers' intents and to bring their music most fully to life." The long period of working together outside the glare of public scrutiny and away from the microphone has unified Rosendaal, Schrader, and Barton Pine's ensemble playing into a seamless blend.
Handel makes a return appearance here in the form of his Sonata in G minor, HWV 364a, a selection featured on the earlier album. Nevertheless, this is a new recording, and it is fleeter in tempo and more assured in delivery than the earlier one from 1996. Among the main attractions here are the Marini and Veracini sonatas with their high level of chromaticism and cornucopia of bizarre effects, and the Locatelli Sonata da Camera in F, Op. 6/2, is notable through its heightened sense of rhythmic involvement, which at times almost sounds "jazzy" in Trio Settecento's hands. All of the pieces in this varied program are rewarding, however, and one thing's for sure -- Trio Settecento isn't Musica Antiqua Köln, Romanesca, or the Purcell Quartet; it has a warmth, style, and individual nature all its own. Çedille's An Italian Sojourn is a highly enjoyable collection that should well please any fancier of Italian Baroque trio sonatas, and it is beautifully recorded and generously annotated to boot.