Early Music Review: Stradella: Complete Violin Sinfonias

Ensemble Giardino di Delizie, Ewa Anna Augustynowicz
125:31 (2 CDs in a single jewel case)
Brilliant Classics 96079


This double CD set presents all 12 of Alessandro Stradella’s Violin Sinfonias and two of his Sinfonias a tre played by Ewa Anna Augustynowicz, who also directs a continuo ensemble of cello, archlute/guitar/theorbo and organ/harpsichord. In keeping with the music of a man who knew how to live dangerously, there is a wonderful almost improvisatory spontaneity about these performances, which incorporate inspired ornamentation. In the Sinfonias a tre, in effect trio sonatas, the archlute takes the second melodic voice while the organ plays continuo, an approach which works very well indeed. Instrumental music is only a very small part of Stradella’s output, but his confident writing for this chamber ensemble with its vividly wayward approach to harmonic progressions and mercurial changes of rhythm is wonderfully engaging, especially when played with such imaginative musicality as it is here. Augustynowicz plays a warm-toned and declamatory Baroque violin by the Ravenna maker, Marco Minnozzi.

D. James Ross