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Works for Violin.
Helene Schmitt with continuo.
Christophorus 77224, 76'19"

Marco Uccellini (1603-80) of Modena broke new ground in the development of the virtuoso sonata for solo violin. Those sonate selected here from his large output demonstrate his expansion of the then prevalent short form of several sections amounting to some 60 bars. Several of Uccellini's are 7 to 10 minutes long. He tends to sequence small, slightly varying motifs; in some of them there is a contrasted second part in triple time, with scale passages and dance-like passages. He demands considerable virtuosity from his soloists, but on the showing of this CD, less flamboyantly so than Biber & Walther's sonatas, also reviewed this month.

The contrast between these two Christophorus CDs is fascinating. Helene Schmitt is more delicate in her phrasing and nuances, less pointed and extrovert than Thomas Pietsch. On first hearing I thought her playing tended towards being a little dull, but heard again on different apparatus I felt otherwise. Her playing is in a collaborative, chamber music style, and the programme's particular strength is the varied instrumentation of the continuo. Markus Markl plays a delicious little chamber organ of great character, made to an old Italian model. He plays too a copy of a 1700 Gregori harpsichord, intriguingly described as a 'false inner-outer' instrument, whatever that means? Helene Schmitt is well supported also on baroque guitar and theorbo, cello and the deeper toned violone.

Taken in smallish doses of twenty minutes or so this music will give great pleasure. The recording and back up information are excellent and deserves a high rating for collectors prepared to explore a fairly obscure composer of the mid 17th century. But if you intend to buy one only, I would still favour the Biber etc released in the same batch.


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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