The Strad issue
An effective collection of 17th-century Italian music for violin and harp
Arparla: Davide Monti (violin) Maria Christina Cleary (harp)
Marini, Selma y Salaverde, Merula, Pandolfi-Mealli, Fontana, Frescobaldi & Uccellini
Davide Monti is fleet of left and right hands in this attractive anthology of innovative 17th-century Italian violin repertoire, especially in the virtuoso divisions of Selma y Salaverde’s Canzona seconda or in Pandolfi-Mealli’s sonatas op.3 no.2 and op.4 no.4. He is also adept at conveying a sense of spontaneous improvisation in this music and seems always at the ready to react to the moment.
Some may raise eyebrows at the use of the harp as continuo accompaniment for this repertoire, but the instrument was certainly employed in that capacity throughout Italy in the 17th century. The violin—harp combination sounds well, particularly in Marini’s sonatas op.8 nos.3 and 4 and Fontana’s Sonata sesta. These performers’ easy dialogue, elasticity of phrasing, and capacity to shape lines with interest and musical sense repeatedly captivate in this clear, reverberant recording, and many works are transformed essentially into mini dramas without words. The spirit of rhetoric with which they infuse their account of Uccellini’s Sonata op.4 no.3 and Marini’s Romanesca op.3, for example, is emphatically illuminating. Monti also contributes a solo improvisation, strong in personality if somewhat quirky, and Maria Cleary adds harp solos by Merula and Frescobaldi.