Music continues to surface from the various minor noble courts of Europe in the 18th century, and a lot of it, through the skill of the composers or simply from the distinctive purposes for which it was composed, is proving interesting. Giovanni Benedetto Platti, born in or near Padua around 1697, used his marketability as an Italian on top of the latest trends to get a job with the Schönborn family in the German city of Würzburg. One of his patrons there was a middling cellist, and the music recorded here sprang from the requirements involved with that. Especially unusual are the four pieces entitled ricercata, which are duets putting equal emphasis on cello and violin. The vaguely old-fashioned title suggests the contrapuntal nature of the music, but these duets are anything but academic. They're brisk pieces that break up the figuration with all kinds of Vivaldian tricks, and they have deeply expressive slow movements, nicely rendered by cellist Felix Koch (violinist Barbara Mauch-Heinke has just a bit of the buzzsaw quality that used to put people off the Baroque violin), featuring chromatic junctures and some unorthodox harmonic moves. They don't really resemble anything else in the literature, and anyone playing or presenting Baroque chamber music should make their acquaintance. The two sonatas for cello and continuo are more conventional Italian pieces, but both are attractively done and manage to keep the cello out of the registral snarl of the keyboard-only continuo. The notes (in German and English) are oriented toward specialists, delving into such issues as the bindings of the original manuscripts, but, true to his name, annotator Frohmut Dangel-Hofmann evinces genuine enthusiasm for the music. Christophorus' sound is just shy of being too live, and it doesn't do the timbre of the violin any favors.
Platti: Ricercate & Sonate Review
by James Manheim