Antonio Meneses

Carlo Graziani: Six Sonatas for violoncello & continuo, Op. 3

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The name Carlo Graziani has, regrettably, largely been forgotten to all but music historians. Although much is still not known about the details of his life, we do know he was active and successful as one of the rare breed of cellist performer/composers in the eighteenth century. Among his more recognizable achievements were his close association with cello pedagogue Duport, and his teaching of Frederick-William II (the talented amateur cellist for whom Beethoven was to write his first two cello sonatas). More obscure is this set of Six Sonatas for Cello and Continuo, Graziani's Op. 3. The sonatas quite clearly demonstrate the high level of technical abilities Graziani must have possessed and his clear understanding of the capabilities and limitations of his instrument. While they are not showy just for the sake of virtuosity, the rapid cross-string passages, frequent double stops, harmonics, and use of very high registers test the mettle of all who would perform them. For the most part, cellist Meneses glides through these obstacles to deliver a beautifully convincing, elegant, and finely nuanced recording. Meneses' sound is pure and clean, allowing listeners to hear every turn and mordent of his elaborate ornamentation with ease. His right arm is nimble and articulate, producing a sound that clearly rises over the accompaniment without being forced. The only possible downside is the occasional intonation slip, but these are not pervasive.

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