A Baroque Master Rediscovered

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

Despite an Italian-sounding name, Francesco Venturini (1675-1745) was born in Brussels. He served in the court chapel of the Electorate of Hanover, first as an orchestral violinist, and later as Kapellmeister. The Concerti di camera Op. 1 constitutes Venturini’s only published collection of works. It’s easy to hear why they gained popularity in their day, and hard to fathom their utter obscurity, for the music abounds with originality, imagination, and color.

You’ll delight in the unpredictable antiphonal interplay between recorders and strings in the A minor concerto’s first movement, as well as the galvanic energy and tangy percussion flourishes throughout its Passepied and Trio finale. No. 11’s first movement is a spirited French Overture, and if the wind machine effects gracing the “Furies” Presto may not be “authentic”, they’re undeniably fun! So are the faster, more boisterous dance movements in the Ouverture à 5.

No doubt that the members of La Festa Musicale positively inform the music’s vivid character. In the G minor suite’s first Aria, for example, the low-lying string writing could easily sound muddy, yet emerges clearly and incisively here, while the work’s concluding Menuets benefit from a lilting, one-beat-to-a-bar pulse. Spotify users, by the way, will notice a bonus track in the form of Henrico Leone’s brief and ear-catching Chaconne in C major, complete with “drum solo” lead in.

One discographic correction: Audite cites the Ouvertures and Op. 1’s Sonata No. 2 as world-premiere recordings. In fact, No. 2 appeared alongside Nos. 5, 6, 8, and 9 on a 2007 Zig-Zag Territories release featuring La Cetra under the direction of David Plantier. Not that it really matters, since the Zig-Zag disc is out-of-print and difficult to source. However, La Festa Musicale and Venturini are a match made in heaven, and will enrich those who enjoy exploring the Baroque repertoire’s less-traveled paths.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: This one

    Concerti di camera Op. 1: No. 2 in A minor, No. 11 in B-flat major, No. 9 in G minor; Ouverture à 5 in E minor; Concerto à 6 in A major

    La Festa Musicale

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