Francesco Gasparini was active in Italy during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries; he served for a time at the Venetian orphanage called the Ospedale della Pietà, where he hired the young violinist Antonio Vivaldi. His music has been mostly unheard for several centuries, and this high-quality revival will be welcomed by Baroque vocal fans and those interested in Vivaldi and his world. Included are a quartet of cantatas, two for soprano and alto, and two solo cantatas, mostly with a pair of violins and continuo. Despite the plural "sonate" promised by the disc title, there is only one sonata, placed in the middle of the program as a kind of intermission. The cantatas, each consisting of a few arias separated by recitatives, all have lightly pastoral or romantic themes that aren't going to be gripping for the casual listener, but the music rests easily on the vocal cords; it is ornamented (perhaps by the performers themselves) in a flowery way without being brutally difficult. The most effective works are perhaps the two "cantate a due," for the contrast between the energetic vibrato of soprano Monique Zanetti and the more restrained tone of countertenor Pascal Bertin is attractive; Bertin in his solo cantata, Chi non sa che sia morire (Those who do not know what it means to die), lacks power. The Baroque violinists of the Italian group Fons Musicæ are exceptionally smooth, and the sprightly continuo playing of leader Yasunori Imamura lends the entire program an upbeat quality that should appeal to listeners beyond the specialists who would normally buy this disc. All texts are translated into German, French, and English. The Swiss studio sound is superb, and the packaging, curiously based on a Polish landscape painting, is handsome.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Sapessi almen perché, cantata for 2 voices, 2 violins & continuo|
|La Lontananza, cantata for voice, 2 violins & continuo|
|Sinfonia, sonata a tre for 2 violins & continuo|
|Chi non sa che sia morire, cantata for voice & continuo|
|Dimmi gentil Daliso, cantata for 2 voices, 2 violins & continuo|