This release is part of an eight-disc series by the small historical-instrument ensemble London Baroque, covering the entire history of the trio sonata in four countries (Italy, Germany, France, and England) over two centuries (17th and 18th). The series is more aimed at those with a strong interest in Baroque instrumental music than at general listeners, but several of them have been attractive for anyone, and this album falls into that group. It might well have come first in a chronological series, for it includes the very first works that might be called trio sonatas, the Sonata a tre of Giovanni Cima, published in 1610, and the Sonata a tre secuondo tono, from 1621. These works were published in vocal collections, and they are for all intents and purposes Monteverdi-style opera numbers played on violins. But what you get as the program develops is a capsule history of instrumental music in the whole 17th century, as the pieces cohere into larger chunks and finally, in the piece by Giovanni Legrenzi, into individual movements. Parallel with this development was one that also continued through the entire Baroque: variations over a bass pattern or gorund. Pieces like Il Marcquetta by Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi (1669) or Giovanni Batista Vitali's Ciaconna (1682) are a far cry from Corelli's or Bach's variation pieces, but to hear them as an outgrowth of the earlier operatic style gives one a sense for the entire line of development. The music is enjoyable enough on its own terms, and London Baroque, led by violinists Ingrid Seifert and Richard Gwilt, has a feel for the rhetorical figures in the works of these mostly unknown composers. Recommended as usual with London Baroque for serious Baroque fans.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Sonata Decima a 3, Due Soprani è Fagotto overo Viola (from Sonate concertate in stil moderno, libro secondo)