These colorful and beautifully crafted Sonate a violino e basso o cembalo (Sonatas for Solo Violin and Basso Continuo) by Carlo Zuccari, written just three years before the death of Bach, are appearing on CD for the first time. If you like the trio sonatas of Handel, you’ll no doubt enjoy these sonatas too, performed by Bulgarian violinist Plamena Nikitassova.
Much about Zuccari’s (1704 – 1792) life is unknown. We do know that this almost forgotten Italian violin virtuoso concertized around the world before settling in Milan in 1736 where he established a violin school. The sonatas on this Pan Classics CD come from 1747 and account for much of his limited output.
Although Zuccari’s sonatas are typically in the standard three movement form, the sequence of slow and fast movements do not follow any fixed design. The slow movements provide the performer with plenty of opportunity to improvise, and Ms. Nikitassova responds with ornately embellished interpretations. The quick movements are melodically inventive, rhythmically buoyant, and just plain fun to listen to. While the basso line generally acts to support the harmony, there is often a lively imitative interplay between the top and bottom string parts.
All three performers play period instruments. The continuo part is provided by cellist Maya Amrein and harpsichordist Jörg-Andreas Bötticher. Pan Classics provides excellent sonics for these very pleasant rarities from the high baroque.
The Italian violinist and composer Carlo Zuccari (1704-1792) worked from 1741 in Milan, where he was the leader of Giovanni Battista Sammartini's famous orchestra. In the 1760s he was in London as member of the Italian opera orchestra and published there his True Method of Playing an Adagio); in 1765 he returned to Milan. The Sonate a Violino, e Basso ò Cembalo, his most important and significant work, were published in Milan in 1747. Zuccari prefers here the three movement slow-fast-fast setting, elaborate melodic lines and bass parts that maintained a supporting role rather than involvement with the musical themes. Despite their baroque structure, the first signs of the gallant style can be noted, both in the treatment of the bass, which is rich in harmony with pedals, delays and anticipations, and in the writing for the violin, which is bristling with diminishments and embellishments.
Plamena Nikitassova, born in 1975 in Varna (Bulgaria), studied the baroque violin with Chiara Banchini at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. She performs with ensemble such as La Cetra Barockorchester Basel, Ensemble 415, Freitagsakademie, and Le Parlement de Musique under Martin Gester, Chiara Banchini, Rudolf Lutz, Konrad Junghänel and Jordi Savall. From 2013 she will be concert-master of the Baroque Orchestra of the J.S. Bach-Foundation in St. Gallen.
The Italian composer and violist, Carlo Zuccari, was born in Casalmaggiore, a prosperous small town in the province of Cremona to Domenico and Maddalena Gazzi. He began studying the violin at a very early age, with an… read more
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Following is a YouTube video sample from the album.
Carlo Zuccari: Sonata X in A minor - I. A Capella Rigoroso (1704 - 1792)