Record of the day: Gioacchino Rossini, "Sonatas for strings"

Record of the day: Gioacchino Rossini, “Sonatas for strings”

Gioacchino Rossini
Sonatas for strings (Cd DG 413 310-2)

Composed in 1804 when Rossini was only twelve years old, these sonatas are already perfectly completed works from a technical and stylistic point of view; it seems hard to believe, yet after a few seconds his personality is unmistakable.
According to one of the legends surrounding the figure of this musician, they were written in just three days.

Whether true or not, the fact describes well the character of the inspiration present in these pieces, which seem to gush out in one go, revealing an unassailable freshness that is renewed with pleasure with every listen. The sparkling dynamism of the scores marries perfectly with the virtuosity of the writing, another typical Rossini characteristic; in this case we also add the further originality of the inclusion of numerous solo passages for the double bass, given that it was the double bass player Agostino Triossi who commissioned these works. The choice was bold for the time, given that at the time this instrument was generally limited to providing harmonic support and was rarely invested with melodic responsibilities.

These are compositions of considerable executive effort which require great ability to control the dynamics, technical ability, perfect control of the assembly; yet listening to them everything seems so easy and immediate that the difficulties disappear, giving way to a panorama where highly effective melodies intertwine with bravura passages always supported by what Rossini considered the primary element of music, rhythm. No length disturbs the formal perfection of this music, which uses the classic tripartite form and invests it with its own light.

The transparency of the writing requires a superior quality instrumental ensemble that is able to wisely dose volumes and colors, maintaining an absolute balance in the exposition of the phrases: it can be said without hesitation that the Camerata Bern conducted by Thomas Füri (also violin by shoulder) possesses these characteristics in an admirable way and also adds a brilliance of sound that does complete justice to Rossini's notes. The rapid movements never fall into the hyper-fast puppetry with which many performers disfigure Rossini (mistaking his sublime humor for mere buffoonery) and the Adagi have a warm and passionate character.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.