Persuasive readings of a Baroque master, with colour to the fore

Antonio Mostacci, Bologna Baroque: Vivaldi

The Strad Issue: September 2023

Description: Persuasive readings of a Baroque master, with colour to the fore

Musicians: Antonio Mostacci (cello) Bologna Baroque

Works: Vivaldi: Sonatas for cello and continuo: B flat major RV47, 45 and 46; F major RV41; A minor RV43; E minor RV40; A minor RV44; E flat major RV39; G minor RV42

Catalogue number: TACTUS TC672291 (2 CDs)

In homage to their mentor, Cuban gambist José Vázquez, Antonio Mostacci and Bologna Baroque offer persuasive accounts of Vivaldi’s nine surviving cello sonatas, all but one of which (RV42) comprise four movements of alternating slow and fast tempos. Mostacci is equal to almost all the technical challenges of the fast movements, although clarity of articulation is wanting in, for example, the extrovert Allegros of RV39 and RV47. He revels in Vivaldi’s lively syncopations, agile cross-string leaps and other bravura effects, particularly in the buoyant finales of RV43 and RV46. He is also freely expansive in slow movements such as the second Largos of RV47 and RV41, in which he coaxes his cello into beautifully sustained cantilenas, adorned, when appropriate, with embellishment that largely complements the melodic line. Vivaldi’s yearning appoggiaturas are also passionately emphasised, notably in the third movement of RV44.

These players perform at a pitch (A=440Hz) that both aligns with the perceived high Venetian ‘standard’ of the period and displays Mostacci’s Montagnana-school cello to its best advantage. They employ a continuo instrumentarium of harpsichord, cello, theorbo and Baroque guitar in a variety of imaginative permutations from movement to movement as moods dictate. This results in a pleasing diversity of colour and texture, ranging from the full ensemble to Mostacci’s solo cello in the opening section of RV42’s Sarabanda, a cello duo in RV46’s remarkably chromatic third movement and a combination of solo cello and plucked strings in the lyrical third movements of RV40, RV41 and RV43. The recorded sound is lucid and ideally balanced.