The album of the day: Biagio Marini, Curious and modern inventions

The album of the day: Biagio Marini, Curious and modern inventions

Biagio Marini
Curious and Modern Inventions (Cd Harmonia Mundi HMu 907175)

We conclude this month by diving into the colorful atmosphere of the music of Biagio Marini, an author who lived between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, an exponent of a compositional and instrumental school that had its center in Venice and saw among its ranks, among others, musicians of great wisdom such as Giovanni Picchi and Dario Castello. These authors favored a brilliant style, rich in harmonic and melodic extravagances, strongly influenced by the most unbridled instrumental virtuosity; it is no coincidence that the Sonatas published by Marini as Op. VIII bore the subtitle of “Curious and modern inventions”, placing themselves among the most avant-garde compositions of the time, whose style would later influence authors such as Corelli and Purcell.

Born in Brescia in 1587, Marini as well as a composer was a great violinist who experimented with techniques that were unheard of for the time (plays on the bridge, virtuosity on double strings, various types of scordatura) practicing his art in numerous cities and also moving to the court of Wittelsbach in Austria, in Düsseldorf and Brussels to subsequently return to Italy working in Ferrara, Vicenza and Milan.

This disc, produced by the Anglo-Saxon ensemble Romanesca, features pages taken from various collections of Sonatas published by Marini, all extremely demanding for the performers not only from a technical point of view; the music requires interpretative imagination, a taste for surprise, the ability to skilfully translate what Marini called “Musical Affects”; the sudden modulations, the appearance of sudden dissonances that spice up the melodic developments.
Sometimes the pieces use complex structures including numerous Variations (it is no coincidence that the Author’s favourite forms include the Passacaglia and the Sarabande), sometimes they resolve themselves into more familiar dance forms (Passemezzo, Romanesca, Gagliarda) but in any case Marini’s ability to sustain the listeners’ interest is clearly evident.

Andrew Manze on violin is one of the certainties of baroque interpretation of these years and proves himself equal to the difficult task that these works propose to him, just as Nigel North (guitar), John Troll (harpsichord), Caroline Balding (violin) are excellent ), Jan Schlapp (viola) and David Watkin (cello).

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: Un disco per ogni giorno dell’anno” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.