Andrea Falconieri, Canzone, Sinfonie, Fantasie, Capricci, Brandi, Correnti, Gagliarde, Alemane, Volte (Naples, 1650). La Luna: Ingrid Matthews and Scott Metcalfe, violins; Emily Walhout, viola da gamba; Byron Schenkman, harpsichord. Wildboar, 1996. [WLBR 9605.]
Elisabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Sonates pour le viollon, 1707. Ingrid Matthews, baroque violin; Byron Schenkman, harpsichord; Margriet Tindemans, viola da gamba. Wildboar, 1996. [WLBR 9601.]
Reviewed by Linda Maria Koldau*
1.2 The violinist Ingrid Matthews has recently
issued three recordings in which this development can be traced, from
the instrumental performance of Caccini songs via Andrea Falconieri's
sumptuous 1650 collection to the rich blend of French and Italian instrumental
idioms as found in the sonatas by the French composer Elisabeth-Claude
Jacquet de la Guerre.
(note 1) representing the past with its old-fashioned contrapuntal canzone and the future with its clearly tonally-oriented harmonic language. Fully up to date are, of course, the ground bass compositions—by 1650, no instrumental collection would fail to include at least one passacaglia, ciaccona, or folias.
3.2 In fact, the "Folias echa para mi Senora Dona Tarolilla de Carallenos" and the "Passacalle" strike this listener as two of the most beautiful interpretations of the recording. Because of their physical approach to their instruments (the violin is not pressed under the chin but held lightly against the upper arm), Ingrid Matthews and Scott Metcalfe have a highly sensitive attack, which blends ideally with the leisurely and yet continuos flow of the music. The "Passacalle" is marked by the warm sonority characteristic of La Luna, and the low-voiced, lyric outpouring of melody over the endless return of the bass pattern creates a beautiful, bitter-sweet atmosphere. The harpsichord music La Luna chose as a complement also observes the seicento craze for the "ciaccona."(note 2) Further, it adds another facet of Southern Italian style: a reflective "Passacaille" di Luigi Rossi and an exuberant, good-humored rendition of Bernardo Storace's "Ciacona."
3.3 Although dances like the ciaccona
and the folias can no longer be seen as a characteristically Spanish
import by the middle of the seicento, Falconieri's Spanish titles and
dedicatees in his 1650 collection reveal his deep immersion in Neapolitan-Spanish
culture. By dedicating an entire recording to his Primo libro di Canzone,
sinfonie, the ensemble La Luna gives a colorful impression of the
wide range of genres and styles available to instrumental composers, and
it offers a highly attractive sample of the integration of Italian and
4.2 Jacquet's Sonates pour le viollon of 1707 display a typically French sonic world: a warm, full sonority, played out at a reflective, long-breathed pace. In contrast to the seicento music of the recordings discussed above, Jacquet's compositions are fully-fledged Baroque sonatas with individual movements of contrasting character. Whereas the magnitude displayed in the broad opening movements and the wide, occasionally daring harmonic range betray Jacquet's French heritage, her exploitation of expressive contrast and the closeness of some passages to dramatic recitative show her integration of an Italianate concern for eloquent musical rhetoric. Nevertheless, the original identity of vocal and instrumental idioms, as seen in the early Italian sonate, has long given way to a characteristically instrumental language: regular phrasing creates a continuous flow, embellished by lush French ornaments. This does not mean, though, that this music is less eloquent; through various rhetoric nuances, Ingrid Matthews, Margriet Tindemans and Byron Schenkman give this style a subtle expressivity, in which every repetition adds something new, in which every alternation between violin and harpsichord turns out as a dialogue between two conversing partners. The rhythmic flexibility, too, appaers as a hallmark both of Jacquet's style and the sensitive interpretation of Matthews and Schenkman; in the hemiola-laden Presto of the the Sonate II in D Major, the constant tugging between triple and duple turns into a delightful physical experience for the listener.
4.3 In another way, Jacquet's music for solo
harpsichord (1687) equally illustrates the blend between French and Italian
styles. The broad, rhapsodic gestures of the unmeasured Prelude in A Minor
stands in the French tradition of Louis Couperin and others, whereas the
abrupt changes of pace in the "Tocade" may well be a reflection of the
Italian keyboard practice as adopted by Froberger.
5.2 The program notes for all three recordings are concise and informative. Although In stil moderno does not go beyond the typical listing of the individual items, it provides the listener with a guideline adequate to trace the development of music for solo violin in seicento Italy. Ingrid Matthews' biographical sketch of Elisabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre recreates the atmosphere of musical life in Paris around 1700, adding the essential characteristics of Jacquet's style in her violin music. In both booklets, however, bibliographical references would have been desirable, as Scott Metcalfe provided in his program notes on Falconieri's Primo libro di Canzone, sinfonie, where books for further reading on the composer and Neapolitan performance practice have been recommended.
5.3 In short, all three recordings are to be recommended as interpretations of seventeenth-century violin music that are not only historically informed, but also a delight to the ear.
*Linda Maria Koldau (firstname.lastname@example.org) is writing her Ph.D. dissertation at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität (Bonn) on the sacred music of Claudio Monteverdi and is involved in the research on and editions of seventeenth-century Italian sacred music.
Return to beginning
Notes1. Dinko Fabris, Andrea Falconieri Napoletano: un liutista-compositore del Seicento (Rome: Torre d'Orfeo, 1987), as quoted in the program notes of this recording.
Return to text
2. The best known testimony to this mania is by Salvator
Rosa, with the three lines he dedicates to the ciaccona in his satire
La musica: "E si sente per tutto à più potere, /
Ond'è, che ognun si scandalizza, e tedia, / Cantar sù la
Ciaccona il Miserere." (Satire di Salvator Rosa [Amsterdam: Presso
Severo Prothomastix, 1664], Satira I, "La Musica," p. 11).
3. Mercure galant, July, 1677, 109.
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