The Strad Issue: December 2014
Description: A highly successful endeavour to give life to the music of forgotten 17th-century composers
Musicians: Veronika Skuplik (Baroque violin) Evangelina Mascardi (lute)
Composer: Anonymous

This label’s aims, to offer young artists a platform and make accessible lesser-known early music repertoire, are amply fulfilled in this live recording. It is the outcome of Veronika Skuplik’s mission to make musical sense of items in anonymous manuscript sources preserved in Klagenfurt, London and KromeˇrË‡íž and arrange most of them logically into suites for unaccompanied scordatura violin. Interestingly, Skuplik observes that the British Library and KromeˇrË‡íž manuscripts have some of the solo pieces from the Klagenfurt source with an added bass-line and claims that they almost certainly prove that the Klagenfurt composers belonged to the circle of Biber and Schmelzer and cultivated similar idioms.

Forthright advocacy for lesser-known, uneven repertoire has rarely been more persuasively argued. Skuplik brings to these intricate miniatures an aristocratic poise, and her technical command, extempore ornamentation and flexibility of pulse admirably capture the improvisatory character of each. She explores a wide dynamic range, using vibrato sparingly and producing a varied palette of tonal colours, and brings this music to life in an unforced, natural way. Lutenist Evangelina Mascardi joins her in three items, accompanying polished accounts of two sonatas and a virtuoso Ciaconna. The close recording reproduces non-musical detail but is resonant and well balanced. Some minor intonation issues remain.

Robin Stowell